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NEW LOTHROP — Faced with increasing COVID-19 case numbers, New Lothrop Area Public Schools Wednesday announced a district-wide masking requirement for students and staff, while Ovid-Elsie has returned to online learning for high school students.

In a letter posted Wednesday morning, New Lothrop Superintendent Anthony Berthiaume said all students and staff from seventh to 12th grade will be required to wear masks from today through Nov. 18.

Preschool through sixth-grade students will continue to have the option to wear a mask. Masks aren’t required during lunch, outside or during extra-curricular activities. Masks remain required for everyone on buses.

“We have come to a point in the school year where I, as the district leader, need to make a decision on what is best for our students and staff due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases we have in our district,” Berthiaume wrote.

According to Berthiaume’s letter, since Oct. 11 there have been 35 positive cases in the district, including 21 at the high school. Additional results are pending, he noted.

According to the district website, since Oct. 21, New Lothrop has had 17 confirmed cases involving 11 students and six staff. In addition, the district has quarantined 54 students.

In his letter, Berthiaume said the district is continuing its test to stay program, in which close contact students can wear a mask and if they test negative on a rapid test each day they can attend class.

Ovid-Elsie Area Schools this week has canceled several events because of high case numbers. The district’s high school is in remote learning through Nov. 5 with a return to in-person learning Nov. 8.

Ovid-Elsie, as of Monday, reported 39 high school student cases, six among staff, and single cases at E.E. Knight and Leonard elementaries. An additional 159 people were reported as quarantined close contacts.

The district reported 24.4% of the high school is quarantined or isolated, according to the district website.

Superintendent Ryan Cunningham said online learning allows students to continue with activities.

“Today, our FFA left for the national leadership convention in Indianapolis,” Cunningham said via email. “Three kids chose to participate — some chose not to participate. Band had a concert (Tuesday), they chose to reschedule so they could practice. Our girls cross country team won the league for the first time in school history — regionals are Friday and we have kids that could advance to states.

“FFA also has their county-wide poultry competition and sale next week — something that they have been working on for months. Volleyball districts start Monday. And yes, football qualified for playoffs and if we can safely field a team to play at Millington Friday night, we will do so,” he continued.

“Our board and district administration did not feel that taking these opportunities away from healthy kids was fair,” he said.

Cunningham said the remote school includes an hourly schedule with a teacher in front of students. K-8 buildings remain open with all extracurriculars in place.

In Shiawassee County, there were 199 new cases over the past seven days, as well as a seven-day record eight deaths. The county now has 805 active cases — up nearly 100 over the previous week.

COVID-19 cases have been rising at several area school districts in recent weeks. Corunna Public Schools last week went to a mask mandate for middle and high school students while in class through the first week of November.

At Corunna, where the district is asking students to wear masks in class and on buses, but not in hallways or at lunch, the district has 14 active positive cases affecting Elsa Meyer, the middle school and high school. The district has had 101 total cases this school year.

Owosso Public Schools this week saw its board of education reaffirm its support for health department directives. The district reported nine cases over the past week, along with 28 quarantined individuals.

Perry Public Schools, which had a mask mandate in September because of rising cases, now has optional masking. The district reported three positive cases Oct. 21, along with 10 quarantined students.

Morrice Area Schools this week reported two positive elementary student cases and three staff cases. At the Jr./Sr. High School there are three student cases and one staff case. No quarantine information was listed.

Durand Area Schools last reported one case at the high school on Oct. 20. No quarantine information was listed.

Byron Area Schools reported one elementary infection Tuesday. No quarantine information was listed.

Laingsburg Community Schools has not posted notice of a new case on its website since Oct. 12.

Chesaning Union Schools has not posted any information on new cases since Oct. 18.

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