NORTHVILLE, Mich. – The Northville Public Schools district superintendent sent a letter to families, students and staff on Wednesday explaining why more than 75 of the district’s roughly 7,000 students are quarantining.
In her letter, Superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher said she believes the district has had effective protocols to keep kids safe in school amid the coronavirus pandemic this fall. However, Gallagher said out-of-school parties, and in one case a party bus, without social distancing or mask-wearing put dozens of students at risk of contracting the virus. Gallagher said two positive cases of COVID connected with the out-of-school parties resulted in more 75 quarantined students as of Wednesday.
This impacts students at Northville High School and some of their siblings at home who attend other schools in the district.
During the past two months, the Northville Public Schools district has offered families the choice of in-person school. Gallagher said feedback has been good as the return to school amid the pandemic has been going “very successfully overall, with our students, staff, and families demonstrating tremendous flexibility and adapting very quickly to following the health and safety protocols we have in place at school.”
“The feedback from our students, teachers, staff and families has reaffirmed that our schools are vital to meeting the academic, social, emotional and physical needs of our students. The protocols in place in our classrooms and schools appear to be effective,” reads her letter. “We do not, thus far, have any evidence of positive cases of COVID-19 tracing back to exposure at school or during school hours, and the number of students quarantined as a result of close contacts at school has been minimal up to this point.”
Community spread risk
But with dozens of students in quarantine due to activities outside of the classrooms, the superintendent warns health officials will be monitoring the risk of community spread, threatening the suspension of in-person learning.
“Health officials further note that if the community spread risk continues at its highest level, the Wayne County Public Health Division will issue stricter guidelines that could include suspension of in-person classroom learning in communities with sustained high levels of COVID-19 cases,” reads her letter.
New COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Michigan. Testing has increased in recent weeks, with more than 40,000 diagnostic tests reported per day, but the positive rate has increased to around 5%. Hospitalizations have increased steadily for the last four weeks, including upticks in critical care and ventilator use.