Michigan schools to close Monday
March 13, 2020
By Daily Globe STAFF
LANSING - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced late Thursday that she was ordering the closure of all public, private and boarding K-12 school facilities in the state from Monday through April 5.
Schools are scheduled to reopen Monday, April 6, according to Whitmer's announcement.
"This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families and our overall public health," Whitmer said. "I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food. I know this will be a tough time, but we're doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge everyone to make smart choices during this time and do everything they can to protect themselves and their families."
There were 12 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan as of Thursday night, according to Whitmer's announcement.
Prior to Whitmer's announcement, superintendents of both the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District districts and the Hurley School District held meetings Thursday with their local health department representatives to discuss how to handle the threat of the virus entering their schools.
"We're working with our community partners, following their guidelines and ready to change our plans in a moment's time," said Jason Gustafson, superintendent of the Wakefield-Marenisco School District.
"This is a very fluid, ever-changing situation. We will keep you updated as it progresses. ... The safety of our children and staff are of the utmost importance to us. We will continue to make decisions with this in mind," Ironwood Superintendent Travis Powell said in a post on the district's Facebook page Thursday regarding the district's plan to continue with classes prior to the governor's order.
In a letter that was in the post, Powell said the district was planning to follow the Western U.P. Health Department's current recommendation to keep school open while continuing to monitor the situation and implementing the existing district protocols for controlling the flu.
Powell reiterated the importance of washing hands and avoiding touching the face as ways to help prevent the spread of the virus, as well as staying home if sick.
The Bessemer Area School District announced Thursday that it was canceling all field trips, assemblies, performances, community meetings, community education programs, rentals and group gatherings.
"The governor has declared a state of emergency, we are taking COVID-19 very seriously and hope that with you help we can mitigate the spread of this virus in our communities," said Daniel Niemi, superintendent of Bessemer Area School District.
The Hurley School District has also implemented a plan of action and canceled all events that would involve 100 people or more.
"We worked today with people representing every level that kids are involved with," administrator Kevin Genisot said Thursday. "We are looking at the possiblity of closure. It's looking more and more like it is not a question of if, but of when - just look at the NBA."
Genisot was referring to the National Basketball League's decision Wednesday to suspend the season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Genisot also said that he has been working directly with Powell. "It is a big deal," Genisot said. "Although there are no reported cases here, we have to be a step ahead of it."