Superintendent stresses importance of in-person learning

Whitmer announces new goals during new conference

Steve Locke

Steve Locke

MECOSTA, OSCEOLA COUNTIES — During a news conference Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set a goal for all Michigan schools to offer an in-person learning option by March 1.

However, with many schools in the Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District offering in-person options since the beginning of the year, MOISD Superintendent Steve Locke said the announcement should have been made much sooner.

“I would say the bar has been set entirely too low,” Locke said. “All our districts have been open since day one with full cooperation from our health department.”

Not including the temporary high school closure enforced in November by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Locke said services at the MOISD also have been open through the entire academic year.

However, as cases of COVID-19 rose, several school districts faced temporary or partial closures throughout the year.

Despite several partial or temporary closures throughout the MOISD, Locke said research suggests that an in-person education is important for students academic success as well as their social and emotional well-being.

“It says students need to be in school ... that it’s more harmful for students to not be in school,” he said.

Additionally, with the recent announcement made by Whitmer to allow teachers to receive vaccinations, Locke said having students and staff fully in-person is becoming more and more likely.

Locke said staff at the MOISD have already been polled to see how many are interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine when they become available.

“I think that the potential of a vaccination is very encouraging for a lot of our staff,” he said.