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Lowell, Rockford secondary students returning to classrooms

Lowell and Rockford — Citing recent trends in the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in their communities, Lowell Area Schools and Rockford Public Schools are planning to take one step closer to “normal” next week.


Beginning Monday, Feb. 1, middle and high school students will shift from their current hybrid schedules to in-person classes Monday through Thursday. Fridays will remain as remote learning days to allow for one extra day without students in buildings and in case contract tracing is necessary. This schedule will remain in effect until the end of the second trimester on March 5. 

Elementary students will remain in their current face-to-face instruction schedule, and all students enrolled in LAS Virtual Academy will continue with remote instruction. 

“There may not be a perfect moment to implement in-person learning, but we believe it is time to have our students in school as much as possible,” said Superintendent Nate Fowler in a letter to families. “We believe that most students learn best when they are with quality teachers and going to school on a regular basis.”

Fowler stressed that the district will continue to wear masks, practice social distancing wherever possible and consistently clean all learning spaces as more students return to classrooms.

He also noted that a return to the hybrid schedule or fully remote instruction still remains a possibility if case numbers increase. The district continues to monitor data from the Kent County Health Department and will reevaluate this schedule change in mid-February. 


Also on Monday, students in grades 6-12 will shift from a hybrid model to full-time face-to-face instruction, Superintendent Michael Shibler announced in a letter to families this week. 

“The current plan of elementary students attending full time in person and secondary students attending under a hybrid model has worked well, and we have seen a significant decrease in the number of close contacts resulting in quarantines,” Shibler said. “The main concern over the past few weeks was the incidence of COVID in the greater Rockford community and I’m happy to report those numbers are improving.”

Those improved numbers, along with the launch of vaccinations, allows middle and high school students to return full-time to classrooms, Shibler said. K-5 students will continue to attend classes in person.

“We will monitor positive and close contact cases, and if necessary resume the hybrid modality model,” he added. 

Charles Honey contributed to this story.

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Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell is associate editor, reporter and copy editor. She is an award-winning journalist who got her professional start as the education reporter for the Grand Haven Tribune. A Calvin University graduate and proud former Chimes editor, she later returned to Calvin to help manage its national writing festival. Beth has also written for The Grand Rapids Press and several West Michigan businesses and nonprofits. She is fascinated by the nuances of language, loves to travel and has strong feelings about the Oxford comma. Read Beth's full bio


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