COVID halts face-to-face school for now

Masked Brandon High School students exit the building following Gov. Whitmer’s announcement to close in person learning on Wednesday. Photo by Patrick McAbee.

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Writer
Brandon Twp.-Members of the Brandon School Board were brought to tears as they made the unanimous decision Wednesday night to move Harvey Swanson Elementary to virtual learning for a two week reset due to COVID-19 cases. The meeting followed a Nov. 16 by Gov. Whitmer that, due to the recent surge, moved the state back into a “modified” Phase 3 for at minimum of the next three weeks. All high schools in the state moved to virtual learning on Wednesday.
“Oakwood and the Middle School are still open as they are right now, in person,” said board president Diane Salter. “For Harvey Swanson, we are going to do everything and anything we can to get you back as soon as we can.”
As of Wednesday, Harvey Swanson had 36 students and three staff members in quarantine. At the same time, Oakwood Elementary had zero cases for staff or students, the Middle School has two students and no staff in quarantine, and transportation had seven staff members in quarantine.
After seeing these numbers, interim superintendent Dr. Karl Heidrich recommended closing all three lower schools for a two week period, Nov. 23-Dec. 7.

The two week period would cover seven school days due to the Thanksgiving Holiday and school being closed next week Wednesday-Friday.
“This is a recommendation that I hoped to avoid as in-person instruction is very important to the community, parents, and school district,” said Heidrich in an email to parents. “However, the circumstances are becoming more concerning since Monday’s Board of Education meeting.”
Two issues that Heidrich highlighted were issues with contact tracing and the ability to keep up with it, as the school is doing it in conjunction with the county health department, as well as the amount of time it is taking for COVID-19 testing to come back.
Salter also asked Heidrich to reach out to Oakland Schools and Oakland County to ‘send in the troops’ so to speak to help the district in any way they can so Brandon can continue with in-person instruction as safely as possible.

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