Birchview fourth-grade goes to distance learning

MARQUETTE — Fourth-graders at Birchview Elementary School in Ishpeming are switching to distance learning because of a probable positive case of COVID-19.

Birchview Principal Matthew Byce said in a Monday Facebook post that because of the probable case in the school’s fourth grade, the school has moved all fourth-grade students to distance learning starting today. They will return to in-person learning on Nov. 9.

“We have reviewed all seating charts, small groups, support services and camera footage to ensure the accuracy of contact tracing for exposures,” Byce said in the post.

The Marquette County Health Department, he noted, defines exposures and close contacts as any person who has been within 6 feet of the presumed infected person for more than 15 consecutive or cumulative minutes through the day.

He said the school is notifying any staff member or student considered to be a close contact, and the health department will follow up with those individuals with more information.

Byce stressed that all classroom during the distance-learning period will be mandatory and graded.

Hospital provider tests positive

Helen Newberry Joy Hospital has been notified that one of its providers has tested positive for COVID-19.

The hospital announced on Monday that Dr. William Sheppard, who tested positive, sees patients in the Manistique Lakes Family Clinic and West Mackinac Health Clinic.

“Dr. Sheppard wanted to share his identity while he recovers at home,” the Newberry hospital said in a news release.

The hospital also said that Dr. Michael Beaulieu, its chief medical officer, will see people who have appointments with Sheppard until he has fully recovered.

“As health care workers, we are on the front lines of this pandemic and it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of exposure,” Beaulieu said in a statement. “We have worked with the local health department to inform patients, staff and others who may have had contact with Dr. Sheppard.”

HNJH has and continues to follow all infection control measures, including the deep cleaning of facilities, to prevent any spread of the coronavirus, it said.

Anyone experiencing symptoms or wanting to be tested should call the HNJH Coronavirus Hotline at 906-293-9288 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Individuals with a positive test will be contact by the Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department. All other tests will be followed up by the health care providers who ordered the tests.

Consumer alert

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Monday issued a consumer alert related to devices like smartphones and just how much personally identifiable information they could be collecting and sharing.

“Our cell phones have become an essential communication tool,” Nessel said in the alert. “Because of that, I am committed to ensuring that Michigan consumers know the facts behind digital tracking and information-sharing. These technological advances may cause some to feel their privacy is being compromised, but those same advances are also providing us with unique opportunities like contact tracing to combat COVID-19.

“I want every Michigander to know how to ensure their smartphones are helping combat this pandemic without invading our privacy.”

Nessel’s consumer alert provides information on whether smartphones are listening, how to disable certain tracking activity, and sheds light on how some monitoring can be beneficial, particularly during the pandemic.

Contact tracing is considered valuable tool in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan and across the United States. According to Nessel’s office, contact tracing helps protect families and communities by tracking down anyone who might have been infected by a person who was recently diagnosed. Those who came in contact with an infected person are notified so they can quarantine themselves and prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

Tests to be sent to


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Monday it is sending 3,000,000 state-of-the-art Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 point-of-care antigen tests to the state of Michigan.

The rapid point of care tests, which can diagnose coronavirus infection in as little as 15 minutes, will be distributed at the discretion of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to support testing K-12 students, teachers, nursing home patients and staff, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders and other priorities as she deems fit.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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