Spring break worries school districts as case counts climb

School outbreaks of COVID are already high, but school leaders worry it could go higher once students return from break.

With COVID fatigue at an all-time high and students traveling about the country, school leaders are worried about what may happen once spring break comes to an end.

Already, school-based outbreaks of COVID-19 are on the rise in Michigan. This week’s outbreak report shows an increase of 20% over last week. More than 1,600 infections were tied to new or ongoing outbreaks.

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For comparison, last November Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that middle and high schools must move to remote classes for three weeks. At the time, school-based outbreaks had infected just 777 people.

Whitmer has said she is not considering any new restrictions. That comes as Michigan is leading the nation in both new infection numbers and positivity rate.

The heightened risk is causing stress for superintendents around the state. They worry that outbreaks will only get worse once students return to the classroom.

“It feels like you’re walking on a tightrope over the Grand Canyon and you don’t want to take the wrong step,” said George Heitsch, interim superintendent of Birmingham Public Schools, in an interview with Bridge Michigan.

Kalamazoo Public Schools is one of the few districts not phased by outbreaks. KPS is the only large district in the state to opt to stick with online classes for the rest of the school year. But even it is at risk. The district currently plans to restart athletic activities once classes resume next week. Such activities have been the culprit behind many reported outbreaks.

School leaders are begging students and their families to abide by COVID safety measures. That includes wearing masks in public and avoiding gatherings.

You can read more here.

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