Berrien Co. Health Officials Say Benefits Of In-Person Learning Outweigh Risks
Last week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer encouraged high schools to shift to remote learning for two weeks in an effort to slow the state’s surge in COVID-19 cases. However, students in Berrien County will continue to learn in-person.
Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten said she and other health officials believe the benefits of in-person learning outweigh the current risks.
“We really are not seeing school settings as being the driver of transmission amongst our youth,” Britten said.
She said people under 18 are making up a larger proportion of the county’s new cases, but that’s likely because the county’s elderly population is well-protected by the vaccines. Britten said 70 percent of adults age 65 and older in Berrien County have now been vaccinated.
She also said it might actually be safer to have students in school. Britten said the rigorous masking, distancing and hand-hygiene protocols that school officials enforce don’t always translate to “informal groups” of students meeting up to do online work together.
“Having our students in a regulated environment for several hours a day, every day, is probably better for our community,” she said.
Britten did urge caution in the weeks following spring break. She encouraged students who traveled to get tested and to quarantine if they know they’ve been exposed to the virus.
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