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In-person learning resumes in Berrien County despite Gov. Whitmer’s call to go virtual

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - It’s the first day back at school from spring break for students in Berrien County, Michigan.

And despite Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request for high schools to go virtual across the state following a surge of cases, the majority in Berrien County, like Buchanan High School, are continuing school in-person.

“We are returning to in-person learning and we have done that today with our high school, and we are also having sports. We are returning as usual as we had planned earlier,” Buchanan Community Schools Superintendent Patricia Robinson says.

The decision to stay in-person comes after all superintendents across the county met with the Berrien County Health Department following Gov. Whitmer’s April 9th address.

“In that meeting, we basically felt like Berrien County is at a good place with numbers, not a great place but a place we should be in person and learning,” Niles Community Schools COVID-19 Preparedness Coordinator Tracy Hertsel says.

The only school making a change academically is St. Joseph High School, who have decided to go hybrid until April 23rd.

Though, one thing that will be different for all Michigan high schools, starting this week, is how often they test their athletes.

“All athletes are going to be required for Spring sports to be tested once a week,” Hertsel says.

“If they test positive, they will not be able to practice, they will be immediately sent home and encouraged to receive another test,” Robinson adds.

And if schools begin to see too many positive tests, local school officials say they won’t be afraid to pivot.

“If something is out of the ordinary, we will adjust quickly,” Hertsel says.

“Our district has not had a problem with pausing learning if need be. If it comes to the point where we have to pause, we will do that and I will make sure that our community and our parents are informed as quickly as possible,” Robinson says.

Moving forward, all school districts across Berrien County are expected to meet with the health department to review the status of each school again on Wednesday.

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