Ann Arbor Public Schools delays return for grades 4-12 due to rising COVID cases in area

Plan impacts middle, high school students

Community High School in Ann Arbor. (Credit: Ann Arbor Public Schools)

ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor Public Schools announced Tuesday evening that it will be delaying the return to school for students in grades 4-12.

In the announcement, the school district cited spring break and rising COVID cases within the community as reasons for the measure.

“The number of new cases, currently at 246.3 per million, places Washtenaw County again at Level E, the highest risk category according to the MI Safe Start Map, and at ‘High’ transmission within the CDC risk levels for operating schools,” wrote Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift on Tuesday.

“At this time, concern about potential post-spring break impact, as well as an increased prevalence of COVID infection rates among younger individuals, present added concern.”

Third grade students will return to school buildings as previously planned, with staff returning April 7-9 and students coming back on April 12. Preschoolers, young fives, kindergarten and first and second grade students in self-contained classrooms will continue their current hybrid schedule.

New dates for middle, high school hybrid return

Fourth and fifth grade:

  • April 14-16: Staff return
  • April 19: Students return

Grades 6-12:

  • April 21-23: Staff return
  • April 26: Students return

According to AAPS’ initial plan, fourth and fifth grade students were set to return with third graders on April 12. Students in grades 6-12 were also set to start returning on April 12 in phases according to grade, starting with the youngest students.

The amended days push back the return to school by one week for fourth and fifth graders and two weeks or longer for the phased return of grades 6-12.

After a push in late February by the district, county and local health departments to get Ann Arbor-area teachers vaccinated against COVID-19, preschool, young fives and kindergarten students returned to school buildings on March 25.

“As detailed in the current CDC guidance for public schools, schools in areas experiencing ‘rapid or persistent rises in COVID-19 case rates,’ school leaders may amend reopening of schools or even close schools temporarily until levels of community transmission stabilize,” wrote Swift.

She also cited CDC guidance that states that younger children are less likely to spread COVID in classrooms than older students in middle school and high school.

Meanwhile, AAPS has paused all spring sports after more than 150 student-athletes were placed under quarantine or asked not to participate due to COVID cases and exposures.

“We will continue to monitor the evolving COVID situation each day during the coming weeks and remain in close communication with our families, staff and community,” wrote Swift.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.