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Alcona Community Schools hope to resume classes Monday

News File Photo Alcona Community Schools Superintendent Dan O’Connor is seen here at his desk in July 2019.

HARRISVILLE — The number of staff and students who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Alcona Community Schools district has already surpassed the total for last school year.

So far this school year, there have been 89 confirmed COVID-19 infections of students and many more who have been in quarantine because of close contact with someone with the coronavirus.

With more than half a year to go before school gets out for the summer, it is likely more infections and quarantines will occur, but Superintendent Dan O’Connor is hopeful that the most recent outbreak is receding and operations can return to normal.

This week, classes were canceled because of a staffing shortage for what O’Connor said were a variety of reasons. He said some absences were pandemic related, while others were for personal reasons and other health related issues.

On Wednesday, O’Connor said he is confident classes will resume Monday and there will be enough staff to properly run the schools.

“We did everything we could to keep face-to-face learning for the kids, but we just couldn’t do it any longer,” he said. “I’m pretty confident that come Monday our student body will be back to near 100% and we should be in a better place in terms of staffing.”

O’Connor said the older students and the staff at the high school were the hardest hit with the coronavirus.

Alcona schools are not listed on the State of Michigan’s website for having a new outbreak of infections, but, since Sept. 27, it has been considered a district with an ongoing cluster of cases. The state says as of Monday, there have been 12 confirmed infections since it was first added to the outbreak list.

Alpena Public Schools also remains on the list for an ongoing outbreak with the state reporting there have been 14 cases of staff and students becoming infected at Alpena High School and Thunder Bay Junior High School since Sept .27, when the outbreak was reported by the state.

For the last several weeks Alcona, and several other school districts in the region, have instituted mask mandates. O’Connor said the kids have been comfortable and staff is working with kids who struggle or refuse to wear them.

He said he believes the masks are working because the number of cases and quarantines have dipped since the masking rules were put in place.

“It is not everyone’s favorite school apparel, but we’re doing it to limit the number of kids in quarantine or getting sick,” O’Connor said. “We are doing everything we can to keep the kids at school.”

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