Monroe Public Schools Resuming In-Person Learning; High COVID numbers

Monroe Public Schools resumed in-person learning today after eight days of remote learning.

The district transitioned to remote learning from Jan. 5-14, pausing in-person instruction just a day after returning from winter vacation due to a spike in COVID-19 cases among staff and patrons. students.

MPS had just 75.1% of its students in attendance on Jan. 4, which was only 0.1% above the state-mandated attendance threshold that districts must meet to officially count a day like a school day.

“We are excited to return to in-person learning,” Superintendent Monroe said. Dr. Julie Everly wrote in a letter sent Friday to families in the district. “Our health protocols will be essential to keep our students at school and our community safe. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home. Please monitor your health daily and call our COVID reporting line -19 (734-265-3030) if students or staff test positive, become symptomatic, or are newly quarantined due to a positive family member or other exposure.”

While promising that the district “will do everything possible to maintain the consistency and routines of our daily school schedule,” Everly also cautioned that the pandemic will continue to present a challenge to daily routines and operations at MPS due to the uncertainty of staff illness and quarantines. She urged families to stay prepared by having alternative transportation plans to get their children to and from school, and contingency plans in case remote learning returns again.

Everly also reminded families of recent changes to quarantine guidelines for schools and, in particular, changes to quarantine rules for close contact exposures in classrooms. Other county districts have also sent similar reminders to their families over the past few days, covering changes to guidelines and rules.

Students and/or staff who are “up to date” on vaccinations and showing no symptoms of COVID no longer need to self-quarantine in the event of a close contact exposure. “Up-to-date” means having received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary doses for immunocompromised people, if the person is 18 years of age or older, or having completed the primary series (2 Pfizer doses) for 5-17 years old.

Asymptomatic people who are not up to date on their vaccines now have three options before returning to school after a close contact exposure in a classroom.

Under the first option, they are required to quarantine at home for five days and then take a COVID test – PCR or rapid – administered by a medical professional. For the next five days, the individual must follow the ‘Mask to Stay’ guideline, which means adhering to the consistent and correct use of a properly fitted mask around others at school.

The second option removes the quarantine requirement, but requires the individual to “test to stay”, meaning they must take a rapid test at school every other day for six days after exposure (the home test results will not be accepted). They are also required to follow “Mask to Stay” protocols for ten days after initial exposure.

Asymptomatic people who are unwilling or unable to “test to stay” and/or “mask to stay” are required to quarantine at home for ten days after exposure.

Monroe and Bedford Public Schools are currently mandating mask-wearing for all students, staff and visitors to their schools due to the ongoing pandemic. The MPS mask mandate has been in effect since the start of the school year, while the BPS instituted its own in the fall.

Monroe County as a whole remains in the grip of the severe COVID spike which is also affecting much of the rest of the country.

According to data from the Monroe County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the region had 1,883 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 from Jan. 6-12. The level of community transmission remains high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classification, and the positivity rate is 35.7%.

Meanwhile, only 52% of county residents age 5 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

About Rachel Gooch

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