Officials: Schools may have COVID-related shutdown during school year

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Thunder Bay Junior High School students board the bus last Thursday after school let out.

ALPENA — Local public health officials said on Tuesday they believe schools will have a shut down at some point during the school year, due to coronavirus concerns.

Josh Meyerson, medical director with District Health Department No 4, told the health board that schools with a breakout or significant number of cases would be shut down much like schools during flu season.

Chairman Bob Adrian, asked how long schools would be shut down for should there be an outbreak.

Meyerson said the State Health Department has set up a matrix or a plan for schools when they do have to close down. He said the safest way to open back up would depend on the area surrounding the school. This plan was discussed with the superintendents at each school.

“It’s really dependent on whether you think there’s an outbreak in the school versus (whether) they have a member or two who, perhaps, have COVID but they most likely got COVID outside the school building versus a true outbreak in that building,” Meyerson said, “The other thing you have to look at is what’s going outside these walls. How much community-based transmission is there in that county?”

Meyerson said there was an uptick in cases in August, but mostly in Cheboygan County. He said this is likely because people are moving in and out of the county to a summer home or to a permanent residence.

In the meantime, health officer Denise Bryan said she will send a letter to state health officials in regards to how deaths are counted during the pandemic.

“When someone passes away and they have a COVID-positive test, medical records are requested to go to our regional epidemiologist.” Bryan said, “I believe they go for a state audit and they also go to the CDC and early on we had to do that within four hours of the death for immediate reporting. Now we get reporting within eight hours.”

Those infected with coronavirus are considered recovered after 30 days as long as they show no symptoms. Bryan said she wants clarification from the state whether deaths are still being recorded as COVID-related after 30 days has passed.


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