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School districts to continue in-person learning

MARQUETTE — It’s business as usual, at least for the time being, for area school districts.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday recommended a two-week suspension of in-person high school classes, all youth sports and indoor restaurant dining as a result of the statewide surge in COVID-19 cases.

In an online message to parents and guardians in the school district, MAPS Superintendent Bill Saunders said he has decided to keep Marquette Senior High School open for face-to-face education and continue with athletic participation until data indicates this is unsafe.

Saunders indicated the announcement came with little warning and didn’t allow much time to communicate with families. However, he acknowledged consulting with area school superintendents, the MAPS Board of Education and the Marquette County Health Department.

“I believe MAPS faculty and staff have done an outstanding job of providing face-to-face and virtual education,” Saunders wrote. “Our staff, in concert with all our students, have followed safety measures keeping our schools, to the best of our knowledge, free from COVID transmission.”

He said the school district has built in the flexibility for students and families to learn virtually if attending school feels unsafe or for any health or unrelated reason.

“With no data to suggest any transmission of COVID is happening within our walls, with few current active cases on our dashboard, with our local health system not currently strained by COVID, and with a student/parent option for online learning at any time, I have made the decision to keep our high school open for face-to-face education and continue with athletic participation until the data suggests this isn’t a prudent move,” Saunders wrote.

Gwinn Area Community Schools also announced its high school would remain open, following suit with other local school districts.

“We believe in our COVID mitigation measures in our district, in the format of our educational options, and in the recently added rapid antigen testing to our athletic programs,” the district said in a Facebook post.

Bryan DeAugustine, superintendent of NICE Community Schools, indicated in an email that the district will proceed with caution in regard to Westwood High School’s in-person learning.

“We’ll remain open for in-person learning as long as we are allowed while also continuing to offer our digital distance learning and hard-copy correspondence learning options,” DeAugustine said. “For our extracurricular activities, we will continue to follow testing protocols to protect our students’ health and safety. We will continue to be vigilant during this statewide spike in COVID-19 cases.”

Negaunee Public Schools Superintendent Dan Skewis said in an email that Negaunee High School will continue face-to-face learning.

“We will continue to monitor active cases within the district and use our own data as a measuring stick when deciding to suspend face-to-face learning,” Skewis said.

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