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Solution search: H-PT working to ease COVID stress

Houghton High School band members rehearse in September with band director Kelly Fontaine. In keeping with recommendations, class was being held outside or in the auditorium, to allow for more distance. Students wear special masks that can be closed when not playing. (Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette photo)

HOUGHTON — As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, Houghton-Portage Township Schools is taking steps to check in on students who may have a hard time coping with the ongoing stress.

At the high school, the student council is focusing on raising awareness of and supporting the high number of students struggling emotionally and mentally with the pandemic, said Principal Cole Klein.

“We’ve seen that this is a great need for our students and staff, as this year has just brought on a lot of different stresses, and with having flip-flopped virtually, in person, or staying virtual for an extended period, it really has presented some challenges,” he said.

Next week, the student council will lead a Mental/Emotional Health Awareness Week, during which teachers and students will take a few minutes each day for an activity tied to the theme. The school will hold Winter Fun Day on Feb. 26.

“This is just a great time for students and staff to connect in other ways aside from academics, and these are really important for mental/emotional health as well,” Klein said. He added the school would maintain COVID precautions during the event.

Students are also planning a winter homecoming week during the week of March 1. It will give important memories to students who missed out on the Copper Bowl and Wing Ding this year, Klein said.

Throughout March, the council will have planned weekly themes and activities, Klein said.

Instead of presenting course offerings through curriculum night for parents and electives expo for students, the high school is working on creating video resources for students and parents to help them decide on classes for next year.

On Friday morning, elementary school teachers from across the Copper Country Intermediate School District will receive a presentation on trauma.

“In the afternoon, that leadership team, that data will go out to our grade-level teams, and then with those resources, they’ll start planning some specific interventions for kids to make sure we’re supporting all of our students,” said Principal Anders Hill.

About 75% of students in the district are doing in-person learning, including some who were virtual in the first semester, Superintendent Doreen Kramer said. The district’s total enrollment for spring count day was 1,376, down from 1,424 last year.

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