Alpena Public Schools reports rise in COVID-19 cases

News Photo by Barbara Woodham Students board a bus outside of Ella White Elementary School in Alpena on Tuesday.

ALPENA — A recent spike in COVID-19 infections among Alpena Public Schools students and staff has APS officials encouraging extra precautions.

As of noon Tuesday, health officials reported 75 new infections among students and seven new infections among staff members since Oct. 1, according to APS officials.

With the rising numbers in new infections, APS Superintendent David Rabbideau could not determine how close the schools are to possibly returning to remote learning.

“It is very difficult to say,” because the determining factor “is not a number, it is who is out,” he said.

Check out the interactive graphic below showing the number of active infections — cumulative case totals minus deaths and recoveries, defined as those living 30 days after infection — across Northeast Michigan. Story continues below graphic.

When a teacher, bus driver, custodian, instructional assistant, or other employee is absent, APS often struggles to find a replacement, the district reported.

New COVID-19 infections could further the staffing shortage and possibly lead to staffing-related closures of buildings, Rabbideau said.

School officials say that 66 of Michigan’s 83 counties have school-based outbreaks, including Alcona, Alpena, and Presque Isle counties. They say that residents under the age of 19 make up the largest percentage of new infections in Alpena County.

Local health officials reported 302 new COVID-19 infections among Northeast Michigan residents in the past week.

Based on a News estimate, 2,125 Northeast Michganders were actively infected — and potentially contagious — on Tuesday.

Check out the interactive graphic below showing the percent of Northeast Michiganders 16 and older who have received all doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Story continues below graphic.

In early October, Freedom to Breathe, a parent organization, filed a lawsuit against APS, insisting that the district lacks the authority to enforce a student facemask mandate. On Friday, a judge ruled that the facemask mandate will remain in effect for now.

APS asked that residents stay home if they feel sick and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Officials encouraged students, staff, and the community to get vaccinated, wear facemasks, wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and sanitize. APS said that, because schools are a gathering point for all segments of the community, these guidelines could help ensure continued in-person learning.


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