The following information was sent to FHPS families on Sunday, Oct. 4, from Superintendent Behm regarding the following five topics:
- Staying home while awaiting COVID test results.
- Two data dashboards showing COVID data.
- Kent County Health Department’s clarification on recommending school closures or changes in instructional delivery models.
- Staying vigilant when not in school.
- Mitigation requirements remain unchanged.
Awaiting COVID Test Results
Whenever a student is tested for COVID, please keep the student home from school while you are awaiting test results. Most tests are taking 24 to 48 hours to process and provide results to patients.
COVID Data Dashboards
FHPS has a dashboard on our website showing the number of students and staff members who are in active isolation due to a positive COVID test. This data will be updated every Monday. Additionally, the Kent ISD has an interactive data dashboard that shows the number of students and staff members who have tested positive since the start of the school year. The Kent ISD dashboard is linked to the FHPS dashboard. The Kent ISD data will be cumulative as we go through the school year. Please pay particular attention to the dates of when these two dashboards were last updated. (UPDATED/NOTE: Oct. 12, 2020, the FHPS dashboard is the one linked to the KISD’s dashboard.)
In general, COVID cases among school-aged children have been infrequent. In fact, there were more children in Kent County aged 11 to 18 who tested positive for COVID in July (244 cases) than there were in September (132 cases). Also, the vast majority of COVID cases in children come from transmission in the home or at a gathering away from school. In Kent County, high school students testing positive for COVID are more than three times the number of elementary-aged students who tested positive since the start of school. There are roughly 120,000 K-12 students in Kent County.
Kent County Health Department Clarification
On September 18, 2020, I shared a letter with staff members and families that included a matrix disseminated by local and state public health officials to consider when responding to COVID cases and the possibility of moving a school or an entire district back into a hybrid model or an entirely virtual model of instruction. Since this date, the state modified the manner in which they are calculating risk levels. These levels used to be based upon an individual county’s data and are now based upon the data for a multi-county region of the state. Given this, the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) will not rely exclusively on the matrix to make recommendations to local school officials about moving back to a hybrid model (reducing population density in a school) or moving to a virtual instructional model for a period of time. Instead, the KCHD will look at each situation on a case-by-case basis and make a recommendation to local school officials based upon the data for that specific population.
Staying Vigilant away from School
The KCHD has collected extensive data from the opening weeks of the school year across all schools and communities within our county. This data clearly shows that the transmission of positive COVID cases is occurring during activities and gatherings away from school. Gatherings during evenings or weekends where groups of individuals are not using mitigation protocols are the primary driver of transmission among teenagers and young adults. Thank you for your support in helping to remind our youth that they play an important role in limiting the spread of this virus. Remaining vigilant in our use of mitigation strategies in all settings will allow us to maintain in-person learning for all of our students and families who desire this option.
Mitigation Requirements Remain Unchanged
Late on Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional some aspects of a 1945 law used by the governor to issue executive orders related to the pandemic. The governor and state legislature will be meeting to decide on extending, modifying, or eliminating some of the current executive orders. In the meantime, FHPS will continue to follow all of our current mitigation strategies. We will continue to require all of the actions (mandatory face coverings, hand washing, sanitization protocols, etc.) outlined in our Return to Learn plan adopted in August.
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate this pandemic and learn to adapt so that we can provide quality education to students and families.
For additional information about the FHPS Return to Learn plan and safeguards in the plan, please click here.