By Pat Maurer
Clare County students are still “in-person” despite an increasing number of COVID cases in nearby districts, but some nearby districts have gone ‘virtual.’
Shepherd students are learning virtually this week due to the large number of the students and staff out sick. The district plans to return in in-person classes on Monday.
Shepherd is the second area school to close its doors due to COVID. Mt. Pleasant School’s classes went virtual last week and district plans are to continue remote learning for most of the month.
Clare County Superintendents gave take on the COVID situation in a January 7 article. Unfortunately, both the Farwell Superintendent and Harrison Superintendent’s quotes were not included in that article, but they are still relevant to the COVID situation now. They were:
Farwell Superintendent Steven Scoville said, ““The Farwell Area Schools (FAS) continue to monitor our attendance and COVID Cases daily. We continue to work with the Central Michigan District Health Department on contact tracing and quarantine guidance. Our cases for the 2021-22 school year continue to remain lower than the community’s numbers, and our contact tracing continues to demonstrate that the vast majority of cases are a result of contacts outside of school.”
He continued, “To date, FAS is learning in person, and we have no plans to change our process at this time. We encourage vaccinations and masking, but do not require either, except on buses and if contact tracing demonstrates a close contact. We do offer limited testing of staff and students based on symptoms, exposure, etc.”
He added, “In December, the State of Michigan changed the way in which tests were to be ordered. We have not received any tests using this new ordering format. We will continue to offer limited testing while our supplies last. Regarding vaccine mandates and changes in quarantine rules, we continue to monitor the rules, regulations, and guidance and the many changes with each. FAS continues to make informed decisions that promote the best in person learning possible.”
Rick Foote, Superintendent of Harrison Schools, said, “Our current numbers don’t reflect what is being seen in the larger school districts. We are totally in-person and plan on keeping kids in school unless something major were to happen to force us to go remote.”
Some experts are forecasting a spike in cases this month, while others say the Omicron variant has plateaued and is beginning a downward trend.
Testing for the virus will be easier now with the announcement by the Biden administration Tuesday that a website became available Wednesday morning to request free at-home COVID-19 tests.
The website is COVIDTests.gov includes a link to access an order form from the U.S. Postal Service who will deliver up to four tests per household.
Some issues were reported with the website, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, adding that the administration was “anticipating a bug or two”.
Biden announced last Thursday that 1 billion tests, up from his original 500 million purchase, would be purchased for Americans.
The White House said “tests will typically ship within 7-10 days through the mail, although they suggested “planning ahead” because they will need to meet federal guidelines for when to use a test.
People can also get the at-home rapid tests at pharmacies and on-line retailers. Private insurance companies are now required to cover the cost of the at-home rapid tests through a reimbursement for the cost.
In the Central Michigan District Health Department’s six counties, COVID numbers continue to climb.
Following are numbers for the counties posted Wednesday including the five-day increase.
Arenac: 2464 cases, 103 increase, 1,782 recoveries, 57 deaths;
Clare: 4910 cases, 199 increase, 3588 recovered, 141 deaths;
Gladwin: 4139 cases, 243 increase, 2871 recovered, 98 deaths;
Isabella: 11,302 cases, 547 increase, 8322 recovered, 162 deaths;
Osceola: 3718 cases, 178 increase, 2861 recovered, 66 deaths; and
Roscommon: 3118 cases, 96 increase, 2435 recovered, 98 deaths.
In neighboring county totals: Misaukee had 1952 cases and 41 deaths; Mecosta at 6,726 cases and 83 deaths; and Midland had 14,958 cases and 185 deaths.