MORRICE — Morrice Area Schools is transitioning students online through at least Monday amid a local surge of COVID-19 cases, joining several area districts in taking measures to mitigate spread of the virus.
In a letter to parents Monday, Superintendent Rob Pouch said the district has seen a large increase in COVID-19 cases impacting students, parents and staff.
As of Monday evening, the district reported six active staff cases at Morrice Elementary School and two active staff cases at Morrice Junior/Senior High School. Eleven elementary students have also tested positive for the virus, though Pouch indicated this morning the numbers are continually changing. Additional students have been required to quarantine.
“Combine this local uptick with the national labor shortage crisis and we have ourselves a perfect storm,” Pouch said, adding, “regretfully, we are not in a position where we can secure substitutes for the multiple openings we have.”
Pouch said the elementary school and junior/senior high school are closed today through Monday.
Students will be expected to video conference with teachers at specific times of the day while learning remotely, he said.
Athletic practices and competitions are also canceled and will resume Monday. Grab-and-go lunch will be available for all preK-12 students from 11 a.m. to noon today through Friday at Morrice Elementary School.
Monday is a professional development day for staff. Students will return for in-person classes Nov. 16.
“Please know, we have discussed all options to keep the doors open,” Pouch said. “We feel it is vital for our students to have a consistent learning platform. However, we have exhausted all options in terms of staffing both our buildings for the remainder of the week. The depth of contact tracing is also placing our buildings in jeopardy of reaching the mandated 75 percent attendance threshold.”
Morrice joins Byron Area Schools and Ovid-Elsie High School in switching to remote learning because of COVID-19. Byron’s middle school and high school transitioned to remote learning Thursday as COVID-19 spread throughout the district, forcing a number of students and staff to quarantine.
“Because of the high number of absent teachers and an insufficient number of substitutes, virtual classes for high school students will be extended through (today),” Superintendent Bob Cassiday wrote in a message to families Sunday. “At this time it’s anticipated that high school students will return to in-person learning on Wednesday, Nov. 10.”
Middle school students will continue virtual instruction this week and return to in-person learning Nov. 16, Cassiday said.
Ovid-Elsie High School students returned to in-person learning Monday after briefly going virtual Oct. 26.
Corunna Public Schools and New Lothrop Area Public Schools recently placed middle and high schools under mask mandates to combat higher COVID-19 numbers.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Monday reported 7,804 confirmed cases of the virus in Shiawassee County since 2020, up 169 from the county health department’s weekly update Wednesday. MDHHS Monday reported 8,911 new cases statewide and 47 deaths for the previous two days. There have been 1.16 million COVID-19 cases since March 2020 and 22,521 deaths.