Michigan Schools Prepare to Close Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Mar 13, 2020

 

F.C. Reed Middle School Principal John Truesdell shows the districts elearning spreadsheet on the last day of classes before K-12 districts in Michigan will shut down over COVID-19 concerns.
Credit Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

Schools across Michigan are working to implement plans for coronavirus closures they hoped they wouldn’t have to use.

Health officials in Michigan say 13 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus, more than doubling the number of cases to 25. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Friday the new cases are adults.

Many families with kids in Michigan schools will have had messages like this on their phones : “As many of you know, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a statewide closure of all K-12 school buildings in Michigan.” That one's from Shane Peters, superintendent of Bridgman Public Schools.

 

Friday, the halls of F.C. Reed Middle School in that district were full of kids going to class, learning how those classes would be online starting Monday. 

 

Principal John Truesdell said they used the day Friday to prep students and make sure they have what they need. “I think that’s where the district is today is how do we prepare students as we kind of ramp up and scale up for that process to just give them some common knowledge of how this is going to work.”

Truesdell said the district is lucky to have one-to-one technology to send home with its kids. But there are still challenges.

 

“We do have a program in our Middle School where we provide hotspots to our families and they can plug it into their chromebook and gain internet access at home but there’s only so many of those and still we do have some rural families where on their property it just doesn’t work.”

Other districts will be prepping work packets to send home with kids. 

Families also rely on schools for food, childcare, and other services. 

Truesdell said Bridgman, and other districts, will be providing food pick ups or drop-offs, and will have school officials available to parents and students that have questions or problems while the school buildings are shut down.