Berrien County school shut down over coronavirus concerns

NOW: Berrien County school shut down over coronavirus concerns

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STEVENSVILLE, Mich.-- No students and no teachers inside Stewart Elementary School in Monday or Tuesday.

Lakeshore Community School Superintendent Phil Freeman notifying parents that one teacher tested positive for COVID-19, but the teacher also potentially exposed 20 students and 10 other staffers in the building, which forced the school to close down due to a lack of staff.

“The number of substitutes that we’ve used over the years did not change much going into this year, but when we’re talking about procuring substitute teachers and substitute parapro’s, we are talking for a 14-day period that becomes much more difficult,” Freeman said.

The closure is giving the school time to not just find temporary staffing, but to also deep clean the building and make sure quarantined students are prepared to attend classes virtually.

“The one class that was hit most heavily with the quarantine, those students will be remote during that time period just that one classroom and we took the time today to procure the devices they may need just in case they don’t have devices at home,” Freeman said.

The Berrien County Health Department is working with the district to take proper precautions, reminding all staff, parents and students to never lose sight of COVID safety protocols.

“It is so important to continue to do the daily health screening before the start of each school day. taking check and taking a stock on how you’re feeling whether might have a fever or cough, a sore throat or muscle aches, it’s very important that people are not going to school, student or staff if they are feeling any sort of symptoms,” Berrien County Health Department Communications Manager Gillian Conrad.

According to the district's online COVID-19 dashboard, Lakeshore High School also has 19 students in quarantine because three of them tested positive, but the high school still remains open.

With only one confirmed positive case, Stewart Elementary School still plans to bring students back later this week for in-person learning.

“We worked with the Berrien County Health Department to determine that with one positive case we can still open, even though we have a number of people that are in quarantine. So, our plan is to return to school on Wednesday. The teachers that have been displaced because of quarantine are going to be broadcast into their classroom, we’ll have a substitute in that classroom to supervise the classroom and support our students in person but we are glad that we aren’t going to miss a beat with our teachers being available for our students," Freeman said.

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