MENOMINEE — Menominee Senior and Junior High School will shift to online education starting Monday.

Superintendent John Mans sent out a letter to families Tuesday making the announcement and explaining the rationale behind it. He said that, according to the Department of Public Health for Delta and Menominee counties, positive COVID-19 cases have continued to rise in the Menominee area and across the entire Upper Peninsula.

“The current containment infrastructure coupled with how the community is responding to the global pandemic are failing to contain the spread of this potentially deadly virus,” he said.

Mans said the data from the health department indicates that the district’s safety protocols are currently holding, but given the rapid increase in positive tests in the area and the state of Michigan’s limited ability to adequately administer tests and contact trace any positive cases, they will not be able to hold indefinitely.

Mans said the district was advised by the health department to consider shifting the junior and senior high to online learning on Nov. 5. He made the decision to follow their recommendation Tuesday. “The earliest the building will return to in-person instruction will be Monday, Nov. 30. I will confirm to you whether or not we will return to in-person status just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday,” he said.

He said this decision only affects the junior and senior high school. Students and staff at Central Elementary School and Blesch Intermediate School will continue in-person instruction unchanged. Siblings of junior or senior high students may continue to attend in-person classes at Central and Blesch unless a specific student is quarantined due to COVID-19 presence within their households.

He said Principal Drew Buyarski would be getting in touch with families this week by video to coordinate and explain what and how things will be done during this period. “We have been preparing for this for five months. We are ready. We just need to implement our plan,” Mans said.

Mans said it is important to keep in mind that all accountability for grading and attendance remains in effect, not only as a district with the state but for every student in every classroom. As such, student learning, grading and attendance requirements will not change. “It is very important for your students to engage in remote learning on both synchronous (live) and asynchronous days. When overall district attendance does not meet the state required threshold, we would be required to make those days up in June,” he said.

He also said there will be some additional days coming up during which some or all schools will shift to online learning, keeping with what other Menominee County school districts are doing and in response to health department recommendations. He said Central and Blesch will shift to online learning Nov. 23 and 24, just prior to Thanksgiving break and will be set to return to in-person learning Nov. 30. Additionally, all three buildings will go remote Dec. 21 and 22, two days prior to the beginning of the winter break, with all three set to return to in-person learning Jan. 4, 2021, unless something changes.

“Please remember that we are all on the same team. We all have our students’ best interests at heart and we have each other’s best interests at heart as well,” Mans said.

Mans encouraged those with further questions to contact him at 906-863-9951.