Private school in Michigan teaches outside amid pandemic

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ADDISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A private school in Michigan has decided to have classes outside in an effort to give students more space and lower chances of transmitting the coronavirus.

Officials at Upland Hills School in Addison Township also have indicated that they want to continue classes outdoors throughout the year using sturdy, temperature-controlled tents when needed, The Detroit News reported.

After schools closed in March to curb the spread of the virus, school officials have been determined to have in-person classes. Supplies for outdoor learning were ordered, including bug spray and sunscreen.

“Our kids have been isolated since March 12. We all just dropped our books and left school and never came back until now," said Rob Himburg, Upland Hills director. “We just knew our kids needed to be back here with their friends as safe as we can make it, and we want them to feel safe."

Students in kindergarten through eighth grade must wear masks when in small, close groups and when moving across the campus. Their temperatures are also being checked at nearby sites.

Violette Harvat, 10, is one of nearly 90 students at the school about 42 miles (67 kilometers) north of Detroit. She learns in a makeshift classroom with a camp chair, lap board and a tent for quiet reading.

“Here you get freedom and outside time,” Violette said. “I like being outside with my friends because we can build forts together. We have smaller boundaries, and you can’t cross in other people’s boundaries. If we are more than six feet apart, we can take the masks off. It’s fine. My masks are really comfortable.”

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