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Otsego High School puts one week pause on in-person learning, athletics

Otsego High School puts one week pause on in-person learning, athletics. (WWMT/ Trisha McCauley)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recommended Michigan schools shift to remote learning for two weeks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state.

Otsego High School decided to keep students home, learning remote for the entire week of April 12, 2021.

“We were experiencing an uptick in COVID cases, so the county health department recommended that the high school shut down for one week," Otsego High School Principal Herve Dardis said.

On April 13, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 200 new covid-19 outbreaks at schools across the state. Two of those cases were students at Otsego High School.

The school district said elementary students would continue learning in-person five days a week. Middle school students were on an alternate hybrid learning plan.

Dardis said high school students were learning in-person before spring break. Students would be remote for at least one week, then move to an alternate hybrid learning model.

“With the hybrid model, we’re able to space the kids out far enough apart so that if we ever have a positive case in the school, we won’t be swamped with close contacts and won’t have to put a bunch of kids in quarantine," he said.

Dardis said this includes sports. Middle and high school athletics were on pause for at least one week, expected to return the week of April 19.

Dardis said the pause was a suggestion from the Allegan County Health Department as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

“Here at Otsego, we look at our own numbers, we got to see what’s happening here," he said. “It was mild until we got near the end of March and just like the rest of Michigan, we saw a significant increase in cases, not just in the high school building with students but in the community with family members as well.”

Others schools in West Michigan, such as Portage Public Schools and Mattawan Schools, said they would not be following Whitmer’s recommendation and would remain learning in-person.

Portage school leaders said they didn’t see an uptick in cases when students returned from spring break and they believe they have strict safety protocols in place to continue learning face to face.

The Mattawan superintendent said less than 1% of their student body has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days and he said he believes they can safely operate in-person.

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