Schools making plans to handle state-wide coronavirus cancellation.

March 13, 2020

Schools making plans to handle state-wide coronavirus cancellation.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

Oceana County school leaders provided preliminary plans to their communities Friday, March 13, to deal with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that all Michigan K-12 schools will be closed March 16 through April 5 in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Whitmer made the announcement during a press conference Thursday at 11 p.m.

Hart, Shelby, Pentwater and Walkerville schools plan to re-open April 6. However, Hesperia’s scheduled spring break delays re-opening the district until April 13, according to Hesperia Community Schools Superintendent Vaughn White.

“Hesperia Community Schools will have spring break from April 6 through April 12 unless mandated differently by the state,” White said.

Superintendents said the state-wide closure cancels all after-school activities. The Michigan High School Athletic Association suspended all post-season events Thursday. How the school closure affects the spring sports season remains to be seen.

“It will definitely be an abbreviated schedule,” said Walkerville High School Principal Joe Conkle.

“It has offered unique experiences that none of us have ever dealt with,” Conkle said of the unprecedented closure.

“We’re trying to ease any panic and uncertainty. The vast majority of people are not at serious risk,” he said of COVID-19.

Conkle said he was in the process of drafting a letter to send to parents, “letting them know we are meeting the needs of all of the students as far as education and food.”

A top priority need he said is getting school breakfasts and lunches to the students. “We are still working on the assumption that we are trying to provide meals for our kids. It’s definitely one of the things we will continue to do. We are committed to our kids.”

The logistics of providing meals for students is in the works. “We’re not sure how we’re going to do that, so we are shy on specifics.”

“This will cancel all school activities that occur in any school building, including building use by Hart rec, open gym, practices, and next week’s high school drama play,” said Hart Public Schools Superintendent Mark Platt in a written statement to the district. “Also, the middle and high school will be extending the third marking period until April 10 to accommodate for this situation. At this time, we do not have any reported cases of the Novel Coronavirus in our school district. We will continue to work in partnership with local and state officials and will provide future updates as we learn more about this situation.”

“We appreciate your flexibility and understanding as we work to navigate these next three weeks,” said Shelby Public Schools Superintendent Tim Reeves in a written statement. “We may have additional communications regarding school-related events and activities.”

“Cleaning and disinfecting in the building will continue to occur during this period,” Superintendent White said.

“We are reviewing food distribution options for students, but it is too early to clarify if or when this will take place. In the meantime, if you have a critical food shortage, please contact the Hesperia Methodist Church at 854-5345 from 1 to 3 p.m. daily.

“It is yet too early to know anything regarding events scheduled in April,” he said.

“This is such a difficult and challenging time for us. I know we all can work together to get through this as we are a strong community of giving, caring people. I will continue to communicate through Skylert with postings on Facebook and our web page as new information is presented or clarifications need to be made.”

“I wanted to reach out to everyone to let you know that with Governor Whitmer’s decision to close all schools state-wide beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, this has created many questions and concerns for us all,” states Pentwater Superintendent Scott Karaptian in a written statement. “I will be trying to answer these questions as best as I can as I get information through the day(s) to come. What I can tell you right now is that starting at 3 p.m. today will be completely shut down until April 6, 2020. This means that there will be no extracurricular activities of any kind — no practices, no gatherings, etc. Parent-teacher conferences scheduled for next week are also cancelled. The community fitness room will also be closed throughout this period of time.

“If your student was not in attendance today, please know that many teachers have assigned materials and reading in the next few weeks. Some teachers have left handouts and books in the office that will need to be picked up. High school students, please check your Google classrooms,” Karaptian said.

“The best way to receive updates and information will be to subscribe to the Pentwater Schools app. Once you have downloaded the app, go to the setting and turn on notifications to receive alerts.

“Again, please stay tuned for further information. Please remember to stay calm and follow all proper hygiene procedures, i.e. washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, covering your coughs and using hand sanitizer.

“Thank you for your continued cooperation, understanding and patience as we work through this very unique and challenging situation.”

This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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