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Special Education Classes Using PPE to Keep Students Safe

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Students in special education classes at Manistee Intermediate School District are learning in person, and the school district is using more accessible PPE for students and teachers to stay safe.

“There was lots and lots of planning through the summer,” said Special Education Director Brooke McIsaac. “Our students have been amazing and the parents have been super supportive.”

MISD has 65 students enrolled in special education classes through the district. Students have been getting used to the extra PPE around the classroom.

“Each student is required to wear a mask unless there’s a doctor note,” McIsaac said. “Our students have been complying with that very nicely we couldn’t be prouder of them.”

They are encouraging students to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands. There are also Plexiglas dividers on tables in the classroom for group work or for working one-on-one with teachers.

“As a speech and language pathologist, a lot of what we do relies on sound quality and models that they can see,” said Jamey Kistler, speech and language pathologist. “We really had to do a lot of creative problem solving, and a lot of researching, a lot of reaching out to other people to see how can we make it safer by putting as much PPE we can in place and still get the job done.”

Kistler wears a clear face mask so her students can see her mouth when working with her.

“We try as much as we can to have individual materials for students so they’re only touching their own items,” Kistler said. “If there needs to be a shared item, then we need to sanitize in-between.”

Students’ routines have changed in their classroom as well. They have floor markers that are 6 feet apart for students to know how far away they should be from others.

This is part of their everyday routine, according to student Chad McDougall.

“When you get up to school, you step on a mat and wait for the next one to come up and keep going up the mat so it’s your turn to get in,” McDougall said. “So you stay safe and you don’t get sick.”

The district also has a plan for 100% remote learning, too.

“Our students will all have one to one devices just like all the students in our local districts,” McIsaac said. “We wanted to have time in person with our students to teach them how to use those so that if and when we are 100% remote online, they’ll have a good concept of how to use those so that they can be in contact and connect with our teachers and staff.”

McIsaac has been proud of her students and the obstacles they’ve overcome.

“The students have been super, they’ve impressed us every single day,” McIsaac said.

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