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APS prepared for online-only, if needed

News photo by Crystal Nelson Alpena Public Schools Superintendent David Rabbideau on Monday speaks to his Board of Education during an online meeting.

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools is prepared for future transitions to remote learning because of the resurging coronavirus pandemic, Superintendent David Rabbideau told his Board of Education on Monday during a virtual board workshop.

Rabbideau said he would love to say he doesn’t think the district will move to online and correspondence learning, but pointed to schools downstate now transitioning to 100% remote learning after starting the school year face-to-face. Alpena Public Schools is currently teaching students in a mix of online and in-person classes.

“I want to thank our staff, our students, and our parents,” he said. “These are difficult, frustrating times — everyone has been highly adaptive. We have a solid plan in place.”

Alpena High School already temporarily sent kids home to learn online on Oct. 20, after two students were presumed infected with the coronavirus and public health officials identified several staff who needed to quarantine because they were close contacts with those students.

“That’s why we transitioned to remote (learning),” Rabbideau said. “If we had enough staff, we would have been welcoming the students back to the campus on that day.”

Rabbideau said the district was notified the students tested negative and District Health Department No. 4 officials determined it was OK for students and staff to return. School transitioned back to its hybrid model the following Monday.

Rabbideau said he meets weekly with public health officials and other area superintendents to monitor the health status across Northeast Michigan, share local experiences, and ask questions.

District officials also work closely with public health officials when students are presumed positive or test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“When we get notification from DHD about a probable or positive case, we have 24 hours to notify all impacted people and post that information on our website,” he said. “Once DHD contacts me, then we provide class rosters, attendance information, and anything else we can think of that will help them identify those that need to quarantine.”

Rabbideau said school officials do not determine who needs to quarantine. Public health officials make these decisions.

He said each school building has a designated quarantine room, where students or staff can be separated from the general population.

Rabbideau said district officials will hold a parent information night at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, which will be held via the videoconferencing software Zoom. He said district officials are also planning to send surveys to students, parents, and staff “to find out where we’re at in relation to educating children in this age of COVID.”

Trustee Keri Johns suggested the district notify parents about the meeting via a robocall.

Additionally, Rabbideau said he would like to hold a couple of virtual coffee talks that would occur outside of business hours, so working parents can attend those coffee talks.

The board will next meet at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16 on the online platform Zoom.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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