Portage Elementary School Goes Virtual Amid Positive COVID Cases

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PORTAGE, MI – Portage Central Elementary School returned to virtual learning after district officials identified five positive cases of COVID-19.

Superintendent Mark Bielang said in a letter to families that all Central Elementary students switched to fully distance learning on February 19 and will remain out of school until March 7.

“Although we have successfully implemented a number of security practices, we believe this measure is necessary to reduce the possibility of further spread,” Bielang said. “In these circumstances, distance learning is the best way to protect our students and staff. “

The district initially closed the school until March 2, when five cases were identified. In an update to families, the district said it has confirmed 13 positive cases in Central Elementary. As a result, 115 students and 17 staff members were placed in quarantine. Because there have been multiple cases identified in a classroom, this is considered an epidemic, the superintendent said.

“Ongoing transmission (epidemic) in a building is defined as several cases (3 or more) among students or staff with starts within a period of 14 days, which are epidemiologically related, do not share an outbreak and do not were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during a standard case investigation or contact tracing, ”Bielang said.

Portage Public Schools brought elementary school students back to class in August, but were forced to close buildings in the fall. Primary school students returned to class on January 4. High school students followed suit on January 25.

Students affected by the latest closure will return to school on March 8, the superintendent said. The next day, students will have a half day of distance learning so that teachers can pick up their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Thursday, March 4 will be an asynchronous home learning day to account for any side effects teachers might experience, he said.

“The staff at Central Elementary School are grateful to our students and families who continue to adopt the safety measures that allow us to maintain in-person learning,” Bielang said. “A special thank you to all staff for supporting our students in their frequent hand washing and for the tireless cleaning of our facilities, equipment and materials.”

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