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The coronavirus will be a major challenge for our schools this fall

COVID-19 is a major challenge for schools. Alpena’s children need and deserve a healthy, safe environment for learning and transportation to school. The guidance provided by the Michigan Safe Schools Roadmap provides several levels of mitigation strategies for consideration by school districts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Last winter, Alpena Public Schools closed for “extreme illness” and at one point 70% of Wilson Elementary students missed school. This should have never happened. In 2013, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services developed guidelines for the Management of Communicable Diseases in Schools which have not been adopted by the APS Board of Education. There is never a guarantee that best practices will prevent a disease outbreak. However, experience provides good evidence that when best practices are used, events like closing schools and lost education days can be minimized.

Now is the time to review the current APS Hygiene Management Policy and Plan as well as any other relevant protocols to improve sanitation and cleaning practices in the district. There is clearly a need to monitor and manage seasonal flu, as well as COVID-19. We would like to encourage everyone who cares about this community to familiarize themselves with these guidelines and encourage the APS board to adopt the “recommended” strategies in a timely manner so face-to-face educational instruction can safely resume in the fall.

Successful return to face-to-face instruction requires the community to take the same precautions. This now means social distancing, wearing masks when in closed public places, hand washing/sanitation, and proper personal protective equipment use, if required. We all have a responsibility for Alpena’s children and the community, at large.

DIANE BAUER, MS, RN, CNS,

AHS Class of 1973

DENISE BAUER, MN, RN, PNP

AHS Class of 1984

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