Washtenaw County schools, health officials advocate for COVID-19 safety in joint letter to community

Letter aims to encourage others to prevent spread of COVID-19

School administrators and individuals from the health department in Washtenaw County signed a joint letter to the community to follow COVID-19 protocol.

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. – School administrators and individuals from the health department in Washtenaw County signed a joint letter to the community to follow COVID-19 protocol.

They hope to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and get things in classrooms back to normal.

READ: Tracking coronavirus cases, outbreaks in Michigan schools

“We really want to support the 50,000 students in Washtenaw County the 15,000 staff members, and making sure that we’re all safe and healthy,” said Washtenaw Intermediate School District Interim Superintendent, Naomi Norman.

Norman, along with other school administrators throughout the county signed the letter as a call for action in the community.

“We worked with our Washtenaw County Health Department and our local public private and charter schools to craft a communication to our community -- to let them know how important it is to take care during COVID-19,” Norman said.

The letter also goes over the actions needed to be taken by the community in order to fully return to school with all students face-to-face in the classroom.

“They include things like wearing a mask or some kind of face covering, physical distancing when you can,” Norman said. “Practicing really good hand washing and other hygiene cooperating if you do end up in a situation where you’re being asked about contact tracing -- and were you with somebody who might have COVID.”

The ultimate goal is to have students thrive in the best environment possible.

“For mahy of our students, being face-to-face is really the way that they seem to learn best when they’re able to be in the classrooms or working with teachers more closely and their peers,” Norman said.

Norman said it’s going to take everyone working with each other.

“We are a community, so it was important to say whether you’re in a public school, a private school, a charter school in our county that we’re all working together to keep our kids and families safe and healthy -- so it’s really about working together as a community, ultimately,” Norman said.

The letter also recommends getting a flu vaccine.

READ: Michigan students may not have snow days amid pandemic

You can read the letter below, or by clicking here:

To our community,

You are with us through it all. You are with us on the football field and at volleyball matches. You support the band boosters and you volunteer for field trips. You help us in our classrooms and you donate school supplies each fall. All of this looks different now because of COVID-19, but with your help, we can all return to school as safely as possible and while protecting everyone’s health to the greatest degree possible.

We miss each of our students, from our youngest learners to our seniors preparing for graduation this spring. We know this year has been harder and more challenging than any other, and we are eternally grateful for all of your continued support, patience, and unwavering commitment to our schools. We are eager to fully return to school and we know you and your children are too.

In order for us to all return to school this fall and winter, we are asking everyone in our community to do what it takes to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by taking the following actions:

Get Your Flu Vaccine

Everyone six months and older needs a flu vaccine, especially this year. Widespread flu vaccination will reduce the spread of flu during the COVID pandemic and help prevent serious illness as much as possible. It also reduces the chances of people becoming infected with both flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information on getting vaccinated or click here for a list of upcoming flu vaccine events.

Wear Your Face Covering

Wearing a face covering is one of the most effective ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19, which may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. The virus spreads easily between people through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or yells.

Social Distance

Social distancing, or staying at least 6 feet away from people you do not live with, is another effective strategy that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Being outdoors in an open space is safer, and the Washtenaw County Health Department recommends avoiding being in small rooms with poor airflow with non-household members. This means no indoor parties, sleepovers, or other social get-togethers with non-household members where there is poor ventilation or closed windows.

Practice Good Hygiene

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if you do not have soap and water. Avoid touching your face and mouth, and cover your coughs and sneezes.

Monitor Your Symptoms and Stay Home If You Feel Under the Weather

People with COVID-19 may have many different symptoms that range in severity. Common symptoms include fever, cough (not attributed to allergies or asthma), shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat, muscle aches, severe tiredness, chills, new loss of taste or smell, or diarrhea.

If you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms, even mild ones, stay home. Manage symptoms with fever-reducing medicine, stay hydrated and eat when you can, and stay away from people and pets in your household. Call your doctor if symptoms keep getting worse or call 9-1-1 if you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, or if you are feeling light-headed or unstable.

Cooperate Fully with Case Investigation and Contact Tracing

Remember the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to circulate locally. Cases can and do occur. Cooperating with public health guidance is the best way for us to stop any additional spread once a case has been identified. This means responding promptly to school and health officials and answering questions honestly - to protect everyone’s healt

Please remember that not everyone infected with COVID-19 shows or feels symptoms, which is why getting a flu shot, wearing a face mask, social distancing, practicing good hygiene habits, cooperating with case investigation and contact tracing are all critical to keeping yourself, your loved ones, and those around you safe and healthy.

As educators, we are truly excited to see all of our students again! Over the last few months, we have watched and learned important lessons from other school communities who have returned to varying levels of face-to-face instruction. We have carefully planned to ensure our classrooms are safe, healthy, and welcoming learning environments ready for students and staff.

Our schools are microcosms of our larger community – the success of all our schools is dependent on what happens both inside and outside of the classroom. We hope you will join us in taking the above precautions so we can all return to school together.


Jimena Loveluck, Health Officer, Washtenaw County Health Department

Naomi Norman, Interim Superintendent, Washtenaw Intermediate School District

Dr. Jeanice K. Swift, Superintendent, Ann Arbor Public Schools

Dr. Julie Helber, Superintendent, Chelsea School District

Dr. Chris Timmis, Superintendent, Dexter Community Schools

Robert Jansen, Superintendent, Lincoln Consolidated Schools

Dr. Bradley Bezeau, Superintendent, Manchester Community Schools

Bryan Girbach, Superintendent, Milan Area Schools

Scot Graden, Superintendent, Saline Area Schools

Tom DeKeyser, Superintendent, Whitmore Lake Public Schools

Alena Zachery-Ross, Superintendent, Ypsilanti Community Schools

Teresa Woods, Superintendent, Ann Arbor Learning Community

Travis Batt, Principal, Arbor Preparatory High School

Luay Shalabi, Principal, Central Academy

Barbara Naess, Campus Leader, Clonlara School

David Lee, Head of School, Daycroft School

Dr. Ellen Fischer, Principal, Early College Alliance at EMU

John Huber, Head of School, Emerson School

Peter Fayroian, Head of School, Greenhills School

Jennifer Rosenberg, Head of School, Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor

Al Waters, Executive Director, Honey Creek Community School

Fayzeh Madani, Principal, Michigan Islamic Academy

Dr. Sian Owen-Cruise, School Administrator, Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor

Julie Fantone Pritzel, Principal, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School

Bob Burgess, Principal, St. Paul Ann Arbor

Rachel Goldberg, Interim Head of School, Summers-Knoll School

Monique Uzelac, Program Director, Washtenaw Alliance for Virtual Education

David Dugger, Executive Director, Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium

Nhu Do, Principal, Washtenaw International High School and Middle Academy

Karl Covert, Dean / Superintendent, Washtenaw Technical Middle College

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.