MAS closes middle, elementary schools

MANISTIQUE – Manistique Area Schools made the decision Tuesday to close both its elementary and middle school following the third student diagnosis of COVID-19. Manistique High School students had been working remotely since Monday due to an emergency order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (see related story).

According to a letter to parents and caregivers from MAS Superintendent Howard Parmentier, Tuesday’s decision to move the remainder of students to remote learning was prompted by new COVID-19 cases.

“Today, we received notification from LMAS District Health Department that someone associated with our school district – a student from Emerald Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19,” Parmentier wrote. “While we must protect the privacy of the person involved, we believe it is best to communicate transparently with you so you can make well-informed decisions for your family. Due to this being the third positive case at Emerald, and students riding the buses together, LMAS and the district believe it is time to go to remote learning to stop the spread of this virus. Therefore, it has been decided to close both Emerald and the Middle School for two weeks, effective immediately. Classes will resume Wednesday, Dec. 2.”

Parmentier went on to state that there is “nothing more important to Manistique Area Schools than the safety and health of our students, our staff and their families. We are working directly with county health officials to address this situation.”

“Our greatest priority is the safety of our students, staff and community members,” he wrote. “Please continue to take necessary precautions to protect yourself and those around you. It is important to remember that children are greatly influenced by the reactions of adults when facing difficult circumstances. I encourage everyone to remain calm and to be empathic and respectful to those affected. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and your family, especially as we face this challenging situation together. Thank you for your support of Manistique Area Schools.”

Any student in need of meals during the two- week remote learning period may obtain them at the following times and locations:

Meal distribution will be as follows:

-Nov. 18 (breakfast and lunch for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the MHS vestibule, Germfask Community Center, Gulliver Crossroads, and Linda’s Breadbox.

-Nov. 23 (breakfast and lunch for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the MHS vestibule, Germfask Community Center, Gulliver Crossroads, and Linda’s Breadbox.

-Nov. 30 (breakfast and lunch for Monday, Tuesday) 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the MHS vestibule, Germfask Community Center, Gulliver Crossroads, and Linda’s Breadbox.

-Dec. 2 (breakfast and lunch for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the MHS vestibule.

-Dec. 7 (breakfast and lunch for Monday, Tuesday) 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the MHS vestibule.

During Monday’s meeting of the MAS Board of Education, Parmentier touched on the current protocol of the district during the pandemic.

“Every Wednesday, we have a meeting with the health department and it’s just some of the data that has occurred within that week, as well as (COVID-19) totals,” he explained. “Here in Schoolcraft, we had 23 cases for one week. We have a total of 132 total cases … the hospital capacity in our area and in the U.P. – it’s becoming more of a concern due to staff shortages, as well as bed shortages. The testing positivity rate for our county last week was 8.6, which is up from 4.3 from the previous week.”

Parmentier noted that the weekly report also notes that the most frequent COVID-19 symptoms experienced by Upper Peninsula residents are fatigue, weakness, cough, headaches, congestion, muscle aches, and fever.

“Fatigue and weakness is normally around 65 percent (patientreported symptoms) … cough is probably 63-64 percent, headaches are 61-62 percent, congestion is 57 percent, muscle aches are normally about 55 percent, 53 percent for runny nose, and it’s about 47 percent with fevers,” he explained. “I’m just going by numbers from many previous weeks.”

Parmentier went on to note that as of Monday, the number of COVID 19 cases within the district, since reporting began in October, was at 6. As of Wednesday, that number had risen to seven, with the number of populations affected at 125.

Parmentier’s letter to parents and caregivers stated that, “MAS will continue to clean and disinfect surfaces inside all district schools, including the middle and high school.”

“As more cases are being confirmed across the region, it is important to remain vigilant,” he wrote. “COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact and through the exchange of respiratory droplets. As more cases are being confirmed across the region, including in our community, it is important to be sensible, but to also be vigilant. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you or any member of your family exhibit these symptoms, please contact your medical provider for advice immediately. Symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after exposure.”

Parmentier offered the following sites to obtain more information about COVID-19, www.lmasdhd.org; www.michigan.gov/coronavirus; www.phdm.org.

To view the MAS district’s “COVID 19 Dashboard”, visit docs. google.com/document/d/15kTFjw IDDkmBb8ibMS6r4g9MoSONpp jipjYopTEErRk/edit.

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