2020-2021 COVID-19 Updates

Update: May 7, 2021 - Revisions to Quarantine Rules

This afternoon, health officials from four counties (Ionia, Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa) announced quarantine rules for students have been reduced to recommendations after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) shifted authority to county-level health officers, effective May 5, 2021.

It’s important for you to know that our school leaders and Ottawa County health officials have collaborated throughout the pandemic to collect and carefully analyze school data related to COVID-19. Across the county, our school-associated cases have remained very low due to concerted mitigation efforts. According to our local health officials, declining COVID-19 community case, hospitalization and fatality rates, combined with the availability of safe and effective vaccines, make it possible to reduce quarantine rules in schools to recommendations.

To be clear, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the MDHHS and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) recommend quarantine for all students identified as close contacts* of individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

What Has Changed?

Ottawa County health officials will not enforce quarantine for a student unless they are identified as a close contact of a household member who has tested positive for COVID-19 OR a close contact of an identified outbreak OR are themselves symptomatic.  In these cases, there is a great risk for transmission.

While contact tracing within our schools and notification to impacted families will continue, our district and local health officials encourage you to consider quarantine for your student in these instances, even though it will not be mandated. This applies to athletic teams and clubs as well. Please be aware that our health officers will respond as warranted to particular school situations with individually developed guidance and, if necessary, orders.  This is consistent with their long-standing, standard enforcement approach to communicable diseases.

Per Grand Haven Area Public Schools, students who are currently in quarantine may attend in-person learning and participate in extracurricular activities, effective immediately unless they are a close contact to a COVID-19 case in their household or are in quarantine as part of an outbreak. School staff will be contacting families regarding the status of their student(s) returning.

What Remains the Same?

The requirements of school employees to isolate or quarantine under Public Act 339 of 2020 remain in full effect pursuant to state law. Unlike students, school staff identified as close contacts are still required to quarantine.

THE MASK MANDATE embedded in MDHHS epidemic orders REMAINS IN EFFECT at the state and local level, as well as other mitigation strategies such as social distancing, cohorts and sanitizing.

The OCDPH recommends that parents continue to assess their children and staff continue to assess themselves prior to leaving home.

It is recommended that your child and school staff be tested for COVID-19 and remain at home if they exhibit COVID-like symptoms.

What is a Close Contact?

For COVID-19, the CDC says that a close contact is most often someone who:

• Has been within 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) of an infected person for at least 15 minutes in a 24-hour period including brief encounters (does not need to be consecutive minutes), with or without a face covering, or

• Had direct physical contact with an infected person (such as hugged or kissed them), or

• Shared eating or drinking utensils with an infected person, or

• Likely came into direct contact with the virus when an infected person sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets them
It is our sincere hope that the shift from quarantine rules to recommendations will greatly reduce the number of days students miss out on in-person learning. We must continue to be vigilant in our mitigation strategies for the safety and overall wellbeing of our students and staff.

Thank you for your continued trust and patience as we navigate the pandemic and ever-changing environment.