Students at two area schools are forced to transition to virtual learning amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks.

5th and 6th graders at one Battle Creek school are about halfway through a 10-day pause of in-person learning due to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and are now joined by students of an area high school.

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Harper Creek middle schoolers in 5th and 6th grades have been attending classes virtually and will not return to in-person learning until next Monday, September 20. 7th and 8th graders were allowed to continue with normal in-person classes. The in-person pause began on September 10th as an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 during an ongoing outbreak.

In a Tuesday evening notice from Lakeview Schools Superintendent Blake Prewitt, parents learned Lakeview High School students will now join those transitioning to distance learning. Prewitt said in the letter that the Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCHPD) notified school officials last night of the change. The pause begins today (9-15) with students slated to return to in-person learning on Monday, September 27th. Students will be allowed into the school today to retrieve items needed for virtual learning. Starting Thursday, September 16, all classes will meet at their regular time on Zoom. per the CCPHD, athletics (indoor and outdoor) and outdoor extracurricular activities will continue as scheduled.

Calhoun County health officer Eric Pessell said he doesn’t expect schools to have to return to full virtual learning but is anticipating more outbreaks to come. Calhoun County does not have a mask mandate in place for schools, but some of the area schools do have their own policies. Pessell said a mask mandate is still on the table for Calhoun County, but masking up is just one of many mitigation efforts.

A school outbreak is defined as two or more cases of shared exposure on school grounds, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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