ROCKFORD, MI – Rockford High School and the Rockford Freshman Center will switch to online-only learning for the next two weeks after at least 17 students have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
In the past few weeks, 416 students in grades 9-12 have been placed in self-quarantine after coming into close contact with positive cases, Rockford Superintendent Michael Shibler wrote in an Oct. 10 post to the district website.
Shibler said health officials from the Kent County Health Department called him Saturday urging the superintendent to close the high school and freshman center buildings for 14 days as a result of increasing coronavirus cases.
High school students will use the same remote instructional model they had used when the district conducted online-only learning for the first two weeks of school.
The two buildings will remain closed to students until Friday, Oct. 23, Shibler said. Teachers will have access to the buildings and can teach from their classrooms while students receive live online instruction from home, Shibler said.
“(Health officials) believe doing so will stop the spread of the virus as it did earlier this fall at Caledonia High School,” Shibler wrote in the announcement, referring to when Caledonia Community Schools closed its high school on Aug. 28 for two weeks because of six positive cases in students and staff.
Since reopening for in-person classes on Sept. 11, Caledonia High School has only reported one positive case on Sept. 14, Kent County records show.
The vast majority of Rockford students who have tested positive this school year contracted the virus outside of school, Shibler previously told MLive.
The superintendent of 7,740 students had expressed frustration over the length of time it takes to get test results back. He thinks results should be available within a day or two.
“Three to six (days) is not acceptable,” he said. “Bottom line, if you ask me, the greatest challenge, my greatest frustration, it’s that.”
He said the rules call for those in close contact with a symptomatic person, whose test results aren’t back, go into quarantine for 14 days.
Shibler, in his 32nd year as superintendent, said the slow turnaround disrupts the learning process. He said he has shared his concerns with the Kent County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
He said health officials told him that they understand the frustration of school leaders and continue to work with the various labs to expedite the process. He said they say there is a backlog.
About 1,000 of Rockford’s 7,740 students are taking virtual classes.
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