COVID-19 situations have affected both Menominee and Marinette schools in the last few days.
Menominee Superintendent John Mans said Menominee schools were closed Monday after it was reported to him Sunday afternoon that a kindergarten teacher had tested positive for COVID-19. He said this teacher, along with several other teachers and the principal who had been close contacts, had to quarantine for 14 days. He also said that the teacher’s kindergarten class is also currently under quarantine.
Mans said that because several teachers would be unable to teach their classes at short notice, and substitutes couldn’t be found, all classes for the day had to be cancelled. He said this was a provision for the teachers’ union bargaining with the district; if a teacher isn’t able to teach and a substitute couldn’t be found, then none of the teachers would.
Additionally, he said the district is currently experiencing a shortage of substitute teachers, which made it incredibly difficult to find substitute teachers at such short notice.
“I understand how difficult it is for families to arrange for child care when school is unexpectedly closed at the last moment and I take these decisions very seriously whether we are closing for weather related issues or, in this case, COVID-19 related issues,” Mans wrote in a letter sent to families explaining the situation.
With the plans the district has put together, Mans said the school would’ve switched to requiring all students to participate in virtual learning for the day, but there are some difficulties on this front as well. This year, Mans said the district would provide a laptop for each student in the district to use for schoolwork. This way, students would be able to attend school from home if they opted to do that, or receive lessons on a flash drive if they lack reliable internet, since all of the teachers would be putting their lessons online.
However, the company that the district ordered its laptops from is running late with their delivery, so some students have their computers and others don’t. “They said they’d have them here by the first week in September when we ordered them,” he said, “but now it looks like the first week of October. We’re about 400 short.”
Mans said the district returned to regular operations Tuesday, and have found substitutes to handle the classes at Central Elementary and Blesch Elementary that need them.
Marinette High School has also been affected by COVID. Marinette High School Principal Justine Braatz said a staff member had tested positive Friday. She said the staff member who tested positive and all other close contacts with that person would not be allowed to return to school “until they have been out the required amount of time, based on our established protocol.”
Classes at Marinette High School continued as normal. In a letter sent to families, Braatz said that parents should notify the school if their students have tested positive or come into close contact with someone who has tested positive, and to keep students home if they are sick.
“The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the regular seasonal influenza and include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Some have reported additional symptoms, such as a runny nose, nausea, fatigue/lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some situations, the virus can develop into pneumonia,” she said.