As the rise of coronavirus cases affects communities across the state, a number of school districts in Michigan are considering or have turned to distance learning entirely to slow the spread.
Michigan broke its daily COVID-19 case record again on Thursday with 5,710 and 51 deaths a day, along with other Midwestern states reporting a case explosion. Friday’s Caseload is also expected to stand out, marking the fourth consecutive week of record-breaking cases.
Due to the growing number of active cases in Grosse Pointe Public Schools, the district announced Friday that it will also return to eliminate learning for all students.
Young Fives School District for current fifth graders in the combined program, along with students in special education programs, will return to virtual instruction starting Monday, the district said.
Grosse Pointe has 220 students and 47 quarantine staff. An additional 10 classrooms were closed in quarantine, officials said, and they continued to address critical staffing issues. Last week, Wayne County recorded an infection rate of 8% and 1,763 positive cases.
“Similar to school districts across the state, we simply don’t have enough substitutes to accommodate the vacancy for teachers and staff who are quarantining themselves due to COVID-19 exposure,” the district said. know.
In August, Grosse Pointe’s parents gathered for face-to-face learning. More than 100 people, including families carrying their puppies and dogs, marched about three-quarters of a mile to protest the school system’s initial decision to initiate distance learning for students.
Bloomfield Hills School officials also said on Friday the district will switch classes to virtual learning from direct instruction because of an increase in COVID-19 cases in Michigan.
The district’s Board of Education held an emergency meeting to vote on the move, said Pat Watson, director of Bloomfield Hills School.
“While we’re frustrated to have to go back to full distance teaching and learning, we will continue to provide instruction and services to meet the needs of all learners,” Watson said. in the best possible way in this challenging public health crisis ”. for parents. “We greatly appreciate your cooperation and support.”
Friday, he said, will be suspended for at least 21 calendar days.
Bloomfield Hills Schools is Oakland County’s second school district to transition to distance learning this week. The West Bloomfield School District on Monday said it would temporarily implement the transition due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday, Bloomfield Hills School officials informed parents that they had two cases of COVID-19 positive staff at Fox Hills Kindergarten, one student positive at the International Academy, and a case of active employees at East Hills High School.
Also on Wednesday, the district switched to full distance learning at Bloomfield Hills High School after some teachers were quarantined as a precaution.
Elsewhere in Oakland County, Keith Logsdon, chairman of the Berkley School Board of Education, informed parents on Tuesday that the district’s phase plan scheduled to begin on Monday is underway. they eat.
The district planned to staging elementary students first until Oakland County health department changed the COVID-19 Risk Identification Level to category “E”, the highest level of risk in the Direct Guidance chart. of the children. The county’s seven-day average positive rate was 8.5 percent with 3,786 positive cases.
“When we approved the primary payback plan, the risk level was ‘C’, and the 7-day average per million cases was 46 versus more than 150 on Friday,” Logsdon said. Last week, tripled in less than two weeks, “adding the board will not return until the risk reaches at least point D.
On Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 45 COVID-19 outbreaks in K-12 schools and the University of Michigan as of last week.
The highest number of new and ongoing outbreaks is in Kent County, where Grand Rapids is the county seat.
Data from COVID-19 outbreaks were reported weekly by local health departments to the state health department last Thursday. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases of COVID-19 between people from different households who may have the same exposure.
The biggest boom in one school occurred at the Benzie Central Community School in benzonia, a village in the northwestern part of the state, about 30 miles southwest of Traverse City. There, 11 cases were reported among the students.
Last week, Flint Community School announced it would also return to virtual learning as recommended by the Genesee County Health Department. As of October 16, there have been 49 new cases.
On September 20, the county had a positive rating of 2.1%. As of October 1, the positive rate hit 4.3% and now stands at 6.5%, “this is a key factor in our discussions around our learning options. in the future, “the officials said in a notice to the parents.
After more than a month of full distance learning, Ramont Roberts, Superintendent of Saginaw Public Schools, said the district also reversed its plan to go live this week due to the spike.
Kindergarten through second grade is scheduled to return to live class on November 2; however, he said in a letter to the district on Sunday that students would continue its online Zoom model. He also recommended to the school board that all students remain online until the end of the first semester.
Roberts said last week, Saginaw County had a positive rate of over 7.2%, up 3% from the previous week.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical officer, said Thursday that she is “very concerned” about what she sees across Michigan. The state has an average of 261 cases per million people, and new cases are five times the number recorded at the beginning of September.
“We have performed 43,000 diagnostic tests every day for the past week; however, the percentage of tests that are positive is increasing, to 7.5%, and has increased over the past five weeks,” Khaldun said. . Experts prefer a 3% positive rate as the standard to show that the spread is limited.
Northville School District Superintendent Mary K. Gallagher said that while the district successfully returned to the live-learning option in October, the past days have resulted in a large and growing number of students. isolated from outside contact.
The district is connected with two positive cases and more than 75 students are in quarantine. If the spread continued, the district would have to take stricter action, she said.
“A number of hometown parties, including party buses, have been reported during contact tracking, with very little evidence of masking or physical gaps,” Gallagher said. Parents are advised to take precautions, Gallagher said.
“Contact monitoring has also shown that, in some cases, students deemed quarantined due to family contact are still participating in activities outside of school. The isolation has affected learning. was born at Northville High School, along with our middle and elementary school siblings. “
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