In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases, many Michiana schools have returned to full-time virtual learning. That’s not the case with one school district in Berrien County that’s bucking the trend.
With the exception of Bridgman High School, which moved to virtual learning on Nov. 18 per Michigan’s most recent Epidemic Order, Bridgman Public Schools have been holding in-person classes for the entire fall semester.
The district's positivity rate has been less than 1 percent for much of that semester, and as of Dec. 2, the district was able to report no COVID-19 cases among students and staff.
“If I would have repeated that stat to myself 14 weeks ago, there’s no way I would have believe that was going to be the truth this year,” said F.C. Reed Middle School Principal John Truesdell.
Both Truesdell and Bridgman Superintendent Shane Peters said the district’s small size and abundant staff made it easier to implement safety protocols in the classroom. But Peters said it was also a matter of setting a clear expectation for families: that safety protocols had to be followed if schools were to stay open.
“We have communicated obsessively with our parents about making the right choice for their kids and their families," he said. "We’ve been up-front, honest, somewhat demanding sometimes.”
Looking to the spring semester, Peters said the district will likely continue with in-person learning. He said the monumental effort of teachers and staff has made this school year possible.
“The proof tells you on our dashboard right now that what we’re doing here in Bridgman is absolutely working," Peters said. "There’s not a question in my mind.”
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