By Tom Tolen /

The Brighton Area Schools Board of Education reached a consensus at its meeting Monday night that the present 2-1-2 model for face-to-face learning will remain for the rest of the school year for the district’s roughly 5,800 pre-K-through-12 students.

The 2-1-2 arrangement that has been in place since the start of the school year in September simply means all in-classroom students attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays, have a virtual, online day on Wednesdays, and are back in school on Thursdays and Fridays.

The consensus was followed by a unanimous 7-0 vote to remove the motion “return to 5-day in-person instruction” from the agenda. It was stated that since continuing the 2-1-2 model in place was the recommendation of Superintendent Matt Outlaw in concert with his administrative staff, formal board action was not a requirement. It does not affect students who are in the Brighton Virtual Academy, which is 100% online. Wednesdays are also reserved for “deep cleaning” as a preventive measure to protect buildings and classrooms against the coronavirus. The only change in retaining the 2-1-2 system is that efforts will be made to “enhance” the online program that students receive on Wednesdays.

WHMI asked Board President Roger Myers after the meeting what is meant by the word enhanced, and he replied that it means to “build more rigor and more emotional-social support…It’s what can we try to do better,” as he put it. That said, the board president reiterated what the board has said all along. “Clearly,” Myers said, "the desire is five days in the classroom.” And he said that decision will be made in plenty of time for the start of the 2021-22 school year next fall.

Keeping with the system in place — at least until the end of the current school year — also works better from the standpoint of the Brighton Education Association, which represents the district’s roughly 325 teachers. If the district were to go to five days in school per week, it would require the BEA agreeing to a change in the union’s contract.

Trustee John Conely pushed for going to a five-day-per-week classroom setting as soon as possible. Nearby Howell has five days of face-to-face instruction per week, and Conely stated that despite a larger enrollment, Howell actually has lover COVID numbers than Brighton. He said that by not having in-school classes five days a week, Brighton is putting students more at risk than Howell is.

Myers said the board had withstood considerable public criticism when it adopted the 2-1-2 program last year. He said, “When Laura Surrey was interim superintendent, she recommended (the 2-1-2 model) and we took a lot of criticism…(However), it has worked remarkably well.”