Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

COVID forces Bessemer schools to close Friday


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Bessemer — The Bessemer Area School District went to a virtual format for one day on Friday for grades K-12, as a precautionary measure, after three adults associated with a sports program at A.D. Johnston Junior-Senior High School were diagnosed with COVID-19.

“We had three adult cases that ended up positive with people that work with our kids,” said Dan Niemi, superintendent of Bessemer Area Schools. “The Western U.P .Health Department said we don't have to do this ... but in Bessemer, what we have always done, is we have gone above and beyond, just a little bit, just a step more for precautionary measures.”

Niemi declined to say what sport program was involved.

According to Niemi, the staff as a whole made the decision to go virtual on Friday only, to allow for both ADJ and Washington Elementary School to be thoroughly sanitized. He said they followed Wakefield's example and closed as a “precautionary measure.” The staff was “very, very informative and very, very professional" about what their feelings were about the situation. They noted what they have seen other districts do and how COVID numbers will spike and then drop, Niemi said.

“We wanted to make sure we stayed ahead of the spike,” Niemi said.

Niemi said that along with the janitorial staff, all of the kitchen staff and aides will be helping to deep clean the buildings on Friday.

“There are no confirmed cases in the school,” Niemi emphasized. “What we did is we quarantined kids as a precautionary measure just to be sure that everything is safe for the students, staff and community.”

He said that contact tracing started around 10 a.m. on Thursday and went until 3 p.m. According to Niemi, the tracing resulting in the quarantining of 18 to 20 students as a precautionary measure with the guidance of the health department.

The school district is expected to re-open for face-to-face interaction on Monday.