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Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

Some districts go all-virtual in all grades

Editor’s note: SNN continues to track school building closures in Kent County public school districts based on our reporting. If you know of any not listed here, please email us with your information.

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan by moving to remote learning. Escalating case and death counts prompted the Kent County Health Department today, Nov. 20, to issue a public-health warning recommending all high schools remained closed until at least Jan. 15.

Record levels of COVID cases statewide and across the country also prompted New York City schools to close Thursday, Nov. 19.

Here are the latest closures as of press time, followed by previous closures earlier this fall. 

As of Monday, Nov. 23 all Wyoming and Godwin Heights Public Schools buildings had extended remote learning through Jan. 15, with plans for a return to in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 18, per recommendation from the Health Department. Lowell High School will remain remote through Jan 15 as well, though Lowell Middle School and elementary schools will remain in person.

“We understand that this creates additional challenges for our students, staff, and families. As COVID-19 numbers increase, we feel this is the best decision at this time. We take the health and safety of our students and staff very seriously, and are hopeful that with increased community focus on curbing the spread of the virus, we will be able to return to school safely,” Wyoming Public Schools Superintendent Hoekstra said in an email to parents.

After initially closing all district schools until Monday, Nov. 30, Kelloggsville Public Schools on Thursday extended remote learning and closed all of its buildings through Dec. 18. The district plans to return to in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 04, 2021.

In a letter to families, superintendent Samuel Wright explained that the same rationale for the first shutdown also applied to the extension: an increasing number of COVID cases in the state and county and “many more of our students and staff with COVID-like symptoms.”

The district’s food service, he added, would continue to provide “Grab & Go” meals on Mondays and Thursdays (except Thanksgiving) in the west parking lot at the high school from 10-11 a.m.

Several districts have also gone virtual at all grade levels, including Kentwood, Wyoming, Sparta, Kelloggsville, Byron Center, Grandville, Comstock Park and Godwin Heights, Grandville and Cedar Springs, and Thornapple Kellogg.

In Kentwood Public Schools, high school students will learn remotely through the Dec. 8 state mandate, while other students will do so through Dec. 1, officials said. 

In Byron Center Public Schools, all grades will be remote Nov. 23 – Dec. 8, with plans to return to in-person Dec. 9.

In Rockford Public Schools, the High School and Freshman Center closings were extended to East Rockford and North Rockford middle schools.

In Forest Hills Public Schools, hybrid learning will continue for seventh- and eighth-graders, and in-person learning for pre-K through sixth-graders, MLive reported. 

In Grandville Public Schools, students district-wide will be remote until at least Dec. 8.

In Cedar Springs,  students district-wide will be remote until at least Dec. 8.

In Thornapple-Kellogg, all students will be remote until Dec. 8 with plans to return to in-person Dec. 9. 

Previously announced closures (some of which have been superseded by the latest state order closing high schools): 

Caledonia Public Schools – The high school closed Aug. 28 for two weeks due to students and staff testing positive. 

Forest Hills Public Schools – Middle and high schools closed temporarily the week of Oct. 19 due to students testing positive. 

Grand Rapids Public Schools – District decided Oct. 19 to continue its all-virtual model through the end of the semester. 

Grandville Public Schools – Middle and high schools on Nov. 6 moved to remote, asynchronous learning every Friday through the end of the semester, to better support students struggling with the district’s hybrid model. 

Kentwood Public Schools – East Kentwood High School and the Freshman Center closed the week of Oct. 26-30 due to positive cases on campus, and to allow for contact tracing and deep cleaning. 

Lowell Area Schools – Middle school closed Oct. 7 for two weeks due to outbreaks among staff; moved to hybrid learning on Nov. 2 for three weeks, along with the High School.

Rockford Public Schools – The high school and Freshman Center closed Oct. 12 for two weeks due to several students testing positive as well as a few staff members. One classroom each at Meadow Ridge, Roguewood, Cannonsburg and Belmont elementary schools were also put on remote instruction for two weeks.

Thornapple Kellogg — Middle school closed on Oct. 27. 

Wyoming Public Schools – Gladiola Elementary School closed for two weeks on  Oct. 19 due to a person testing positive. All schools closed for in-person instruction on Nov. 12. Elementary and middle schools will learn remotely at least until Nov. 30.

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