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Wayne County superintendents warn school year in doubt if COVID keeps spreading

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The remainder of the school year could be in doubt if Michigan communities don’t take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. That’s the message from some school superintendents in Wayne County.

The superintendents say that currently, they’re committed to continuing in-person learning and school-related activities. They say they’re being vigilant about precautions—and they’re confident that classroom transmission is relatively rare.

But cases in the community inevitably mean cases in schools. And that’s led to disruptive mass student quarantines in many districts.

Amy Conway is the superintendent of the Gibraltar school district. She says the district has an all-virtual option, and that’s important.

“You know, having those options for parents and students is really important, because they all know going into this that if you are face-to-face, there could be the potential of having multiple quarantines.”

The superintendents say frequent mass student quarantines are undoubtedly disruptive for affected students. But they say the quarantines are necessary to keep COVID contained in schools.

Randy Liepa, superintendent of Wayne RESA, the county’s intermediate school district, says districts will let health officials make the final call, but if COVID cases keep spiking, school activities will be in jeopardy.

“Whether that’s continued athletic programs, whether that’s full-time in-school instruction, whatever that may be," he said. "So we don’t have an absolute to that question, but we are absolutely concerned about it.”

One superintendent says it would be premature to cancel spring school sports, but that’s not out of the question.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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