Ann Arbor Public Schools pushes back return due to rise in local COVID cases

A classroom desk with school books (WDIV)

ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor Public Schools announced on Thursday that it plans to delay the return to school buildings for students in grades 4-12 due to rising COVID cases in Washtenaw County.

This is the second time the district is pushing back its return date for fourth- and fifth-graders, middle and high school students over community spread concerns.

“Since our update last Tuesday, the rapid and significant rise in the level of COVID cases in Washtenaw County continues,” Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift wrote in an email to families. “Current COVID levels are the highest we have witnessed at any time during this pandemic.

“More contagious variants, the escalation of COVID cases among younger individuals, including those 10-17 years of age in Washtenaw County and increasing pediatric and adult hospitalizations present added concern.”

Swift announced that the new return date for hybrid, in-school learning for grades 4-12 is May 3. She said that the district’s youngest students in self-contained classrooms will continue in-school hybrid learning while the district continues daily monitoring of cases. These include preschoolers, Young Fives, Kindergarteners and students in grades 1-3 who have already returned to school buildings.

She reiterated from last week’s announcement that according to CDC guidelines, schools in areas experiencing a rapid rise in COVID-19 case rates can choose to delay the reopening of schools or temporarily close schools until community transmission slows.

She strongly encouraged AAPS students and their families to get tested regularly for COVID prior to returning to school. Free, drive-thru testing events will be offered at AAPS schools. She also encouraged all members of the school community age 16 and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and asked that AAPS families “exercise caution in any social gatherings with members outside the home family unit.”

“We understand that our AAPS families fall along a wide continuum of comfort, needs and preferences in choosing the best plan for their children during this spring school quarter,” wrote Swift. “These circumstances may change based on COVID developments. Our AAPS spring return to in-school learning plan is designed so ALL parents have the option to choose for their student(s) to remain virtual at any time and for the remainder of the school year.”

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.