Grosse Pointe Public Schools switch to fully virtual learning as COVID cases climb

K-5 students to begin remote learning Nov. 9

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. – All students within the Grosse Pointe Public School System (GPPSS) are returning to remote learning next week as coronavirus spread worsens among the community.

Currently all students in grades young fives through fifth grade are engaged in a hybrid learning model, and will switch to remote instruction only on Monday, Nov. 9. Students receiving special education programs and services will also switch to a virtual instruction on Monday.

Students in grades 6-12 are already engaged in virtual learning amid the pandemic.

GPPSS officials said Friday that 220 students and 47 staff members are currently in quarantine. The district has also closed down 10 classrooms.

Superintendent Gary C. Niehaus says that, similarly to other districts, Grosse Pointe schools are facing staffing issues amid rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan, as teachers are forced to quarantine due to coronavirus exposure.

Related: More Michigan school districts forced to go remote-only as COVID spread impacts school staff

The superintendent’s message comes as Michigan reported its single-highest increase in COVID-19 cases on Thursday. The state reported 5,710 new cases Thursday afternoon, which is much higher than Michigan’s previous record for single-day cases of 4,101 on Wednesday (Nov. 4).

Wayne County has specifically struggled with coronavirus spread recently. Officials have placed the county into risk level “E” -- which is the worst risk level possible.

Read: How COVID-19 is spreading in all 8 regions as Michigan’s statewide case rate soars

“Please continue to practice frequent handwashing, wearing of masks, daily health screening, staying home when sick, and social distancing -- including during the Thanksgiving holiday. Student and school safety is a community effort,” Niehaus wrote in a message to the community Friday. “We know that in-person classes are the best way for our students to learn, and that school benefits their social, emotional and academic growth. GPPSS is doing all we can to keep our school buildings open and safe for students and staff. However, the district can only control the mitigation practices and safety measures in our school buildings. We rely on our entire school community to work together to prevent further spread of COVID-19.”

Officials say the district will discuss a Return to Learn plan at a board meeting on Monday. The goal is for 6-12 students to return to face-to-face instruction as soon as it is safe to do so -- however, the district plans to increase hybrid and virtual synchronous instruction amid the pandemic.

Buildings will be open for GPPSS staff to access their classrooms, materials and technology.

Click here for a list of COVID-19 cases and their associated schools within the GPPSS community.

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.