Students, staff in quarantine at local school districts due to positive COVID cases

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — Approximately one month into the school year, many school districts throughout southwest Michigan are responding cautiously to positive cases of COVID-19.

After three students tested positive at Buchanan High School, the district opted for a “remote trial run” for high school students Thursday and Friday. Students were scheduled for half days of school both days anyway but participated in classes online both days.

“In light of recent positive cases at Buchanan High School we would like to make an effort to be proactive and maintain continuity in our academics,” Buchanan High School Principal Stacey DeMaio wrote in a letter to parents earlier this week. “Buchanan High School will be practicing remote learning over the next two half days to better prepare if the scenario should arise in which the district would have to implement remote learning.”

Edwardsburg Superintendent Jim Knoll said two students have tested positive since the start of the school year, and one staff member tested positive before school started. In a letter shared with parents Thursday, Knoll wrote that three Edwardsburg Middle School Teachers and 41 students were asked to quarantine, based on guidelines from the Van Buren/Cass County Health Department.

“We’ve been super, super, super vigilant and cautious on these,” Knoll said Friday. “If we think they’ve been within six feet [of someone who has tested positive for COVID] for 15 minutes, we’re sending them home, because we want to stay open.”

Also Thursday, a Brandywine staff member reportedly tested positive for COVID, causing students and staff in direct contact with the employee to quarantine beginning Thursday.

Knoll reminded parents that local health departments are responsible for determining who should quarantine.

Like other districts in the area that have also reported positive cases, Brandywine superintendent Karen Weimer said all individuals who have had close contact with the individual have been notified. As advised by the Berrien County Health Department, the individuals have been asked to quarantine. These individuals are asked to quarantine for 14 days after the most recent date of exposure.

“In these cases, if you haven’t heard anything from the Berrien County Health Department, then you do not need to be concerned about potential exposure and no further actions are needed at this time,” Weimer wrote.

Friday, Niles Community Schools reported two students had tested positive for the virus. An additional 20 students (less than 1 percent of the student population) and one staff member (less than 1 percent of the total staff) are in quarantine.

All district superintendents advised students, parents and community members to heed guidance from local, state and national health experts in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This includes wearing a face covering, maintaining social distance, washing hands frequently, avoiding crowds and staying home when ill.

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