Schools in the Ingham Intermediate School District service area will be moving to remote instruction for middle and high school students the week of April 12 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the community.
While East Lansing Public Schools have not seen an increase in cases specifically from their schools, there has been a spike in cases for ages 10-19 and 20-29 in the East Lansing community.
Based on the recommendations from the Ingham County Health Department and current data trends, Superintendent Dori Leyko ordered the middle and high school to move to remote instruction the week after spring break.
Board of Education Secretary Chris Martin said that there is no evidence that says the spread is greater in school settings than the community at large, so it's hard to say for sure how many cases come out of a high school class.
“We had some cases a couple weeks ago where it looked like there were all these cases in this one school,” Martin said. “It turned out there were a bunch of students at that school that were at extracurricular programs at one facility that is not affiliated with the school district.”
Martin said that although these students were public school students, they were involved in private, after-school activities where the district does not have control over their covid mitigation strategies.
“What we began to learn was that, yes it's going to count as an outbreak in the school because all these kids in the school are affected,” Martin said. “But it’s important data for us to keep because we want to keep students that are in that building safe too, so we have to know it and we have to report it.”
Board of Education Trustee Monica Finch said that the high school was already planning on being remote that week because of statewide testing. To limit distractions within that week, the high school was planning on remote instruction.
“Testing will go on as scheduled as we are able to implement distancing with little movement or exposure,” Finch said. “The middle school was scheduled to be remote Tuesday, April 13 as part of the scheduling set for returning in person but will now be remote all week. Tuesday's testing will go on as scheduled.”
Finch said that students who have chosen to be remote for the school year do not have to come in just to take the test.
“Make-up dates for high school and middle school tests will be announced and offered for students who would prefer to test at a later date,” Finch said. “We will share additional details about what that means for our students soon.”
Journalism and English teacher at East Lansing High School Cody Harrell said that testing week is already a logistical challenge, and so the goal of moving to remote instruction was to diminish the chaos that statewide testing brings.
“These kids are not staying remote because we want them too," Harrell said. "They are staying remote because we have to do ... state testing. I am pretty disappointed in the state for not waving this test like last year because these kids have it so much more worse off than last year’s kids did, in my opinion.”
Harrell said that Leyko announced post-spring break guidelines for families or students who are traveling to ensure safety when returning to in-person instruction after spring break.
“If students are going to go on spring break and travel, they have asked families to quarantine for 10 days when they come home,” Harrell said. “Through the ISD they are also offering antigen testing on this Sunday or Monday for students.”
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