Lakeshore Public Schools
May 12, 2021
Quarantine Guidelines Change
Over the past 15 months, Lakeshore Public Schools has relied on guidance and directives from the CDC, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and, most important, the Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) in making decisions about operating our schools during a pandemic. We utilized their expertise and worked in partnership to develop protocols that allowed our district to open safely in the fall. Adherence to these protocols kept our schools open for more in-person days than the vast majority of districts in the state. We are very proud that we have been able to make that happen with your support.
During that same period, we have also closely monitored data on cases, quarantines, and possible school transmission in our district and in districts across the county. It is clear that our COVID-19 mitigation strategies have been effective, in large part thanks to the commitment of our school community to adhere to the safety protocols in place. To date, less than 1% of the students quarantined using the six foot distance rule have developed symptoms or tested positive for the virus. As with any new information during the pandemic, this information prompted a conversation among our local superintendents and the BCHD.
After reviewing our data with BCHD officials, a decision has been made to reduce quarantining protocols from a six-foot standard to a three-foot standard for determining if a student was in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 while in the classroom. A close contact whenever masks cannot be worn (e.g., while eating, athletic competition, etc.) remains defined as anyone within six feet for a designated period of time.
The BCHD is confident that this change will not present a greater risk of transmission at this time as long as districts continue to be vigilant in implementing all other mitigation strategies including:
- Wearing masks
- Cohorting where possible
- Social distancing staff and students to the extent possible
- Testing and monitoring students in athletics
- Checking symptoms prior to arriving at school
- Isolating and quarantining positive and probable cases
To be clear, the move to using a three-foot radius for determining quarantines does not mean that we are moving away from any of our other protocols. We are committed to ending the year on the same positive note that we started - offering every day and all day in-person learning in the safest environment we can provide.
Berrien County has been the model in the State in supporting the in-person instruction option. This is due in large measure to the cooperation between the area superintendents and the Berrien County Health Department. We also could not have made this work without the continued support of students, families, teachers and staff. Thank you for your commitment to Lakeshore Public Schools and for serving as our partner in your child’s education.
You may have heard recent media reports about the state's plans to release weekly reports about the number of positive COVID-19 cases that involve school staff or students. In our conversation with the Berrien County Health Department (BCHD), we have clarified that these weekly reports will include identified outbreaks within schools. An “outbreak” is defined as two or more contacts identified as having active COVID-19 that are epidemiologically connected to a specific site over a 14 day time period.
In an effort to remain as transparent as possible, the District will report COVID-19 cases associated with attendance in our schools through email and on our website in two ways. First, when a case arises where a student or staff member has been in attendance in school and has ultimately tested positive for COVID-19, a letter will be emailed to all families and staff as soon as is practical after receiving information from the BCHD. Second, the District will update a District COVID-19 Dashboard providing information on the number of positive tests associated with attendance in school and the number of students/staff quarantined as a result of close contacts. That information is found below.
To clarify this reporting, we want to assure you of these four things:
- Due to HIPAA and FERPA laws, we cannot, and will not, disclose the identity of a staff member or student that has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Those who test positive for COVID-19 will not return to school until public health officials provide a letter to the school that states they are clear to return. This could be as soon as 10 days after the positive test results if symptoms are resolved.
- If we do have a staff or student test positive for COVID-19, we will work closely with public health officials. The Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) will investigate and identify close contacts during the infectious period. Only those close contacts will be ordered to quarantine by BCHD.
- We will alert parents and staff of positive cases that are associated with school attendance as we become aware of it via email without disclosing the person's identity.
Lakeshore Public Schools COVID-19 Dashboard
* This report includes ALL students/staff associated with Lakeshore Public Schools as identified by the Berrien County Health Department. Cases and quarantines may not be due to "close contacts" at school or related events.
Cumulative District Statistics*
# COVID-19 Cases = 145
# "Close Contacts Quarantined = 1047
* NOTE: This report includes ALL students/staff associated with Lakeshore Public Schools (including Virtual Academy students) as identified by the Berrien County Health Department. Reported cases and quarantines may not be due to "close contacts" at school or related events.
For additional information on Berrien County, please visit the Berrien County Health Department COVID-19 Dashboard.