Wayne County officials are urging all schools in the county to switch to remote learning through Jan. 15 as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“At the present time, COVID-19 case rates have increased resulting in a second wave that is at a level higher than the first peak in April 2020,” Health Division Director Carol Austerberry said in the advisory.
The recommendation is an about face from earlier in the week when the county said that in-person learning was OK for Pre-K through 8th-grade.
“The Public Health Division now is revising that earlier advisory and recommending all schools adopt a temporary remote learning model,” she said.
Austerberry said the rising case numbers and a positivity rate above 15%, prompted the change. She also noted that the virus was spreading especially among people 25 years old and younger and that epidemiological models show “the spread of the disease will continue to increase for several weeks.”
The recommendation goes to all public, non-public and boarding schools in the county and is set to take effect Wednesday Nov. 25.
“We have reached a point in the pandemic that we hoped the county would never see,” County Executive Warren Evans said in a statement. “This advisory is the strongest recommendation we can issue at this time to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.”
Wayne County recorded 1,170 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total since Sunday to 4,185 new cases.
Some school districts have already begun making the switch. On Nov. 12, the county’s largest school system, Detroit Public Schools Community District, announced it was halting in-person learning.
“The district relied on science and the data to reopen schools for in-person learning this summer and fall and relied on the same criterium to decide that it was no longer safe for our students and employees to work in an in-person school environment,” superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in a statement at the time.
On Nov. 13, Livonia Public Schools reached the same decision.
“While our school district’s students, staff and families have done a remarkable job of doing their part to combat the virus by adhering to our strict mitigation measures and complying with the safety protocols in place, we are compelled, at this time, to make a change in our instructional mode,” Livonia schools superintendent Andrea Oquist said in a statement.
Dearborn Schools have been in remote learning since the beginning of the year and were monitoring data to decide when to return students to classrooms. With the rising case numbers, those plans are now on hold.
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