COVID-19 outbreaks hit almost 50 Michigan schools, colleges

Grand Valley State University | Susan J. Demas

At least 28 K-12 public schools and 19 colleges and universities in Michigan have reported having new or ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, according to an update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 

Last week, there were 11 K-12 schools and 16 colleges reporting new or ongoing outbreaks.

Some of the K-12 schools that have new outbreaks include Central Elementary School in Menominee (three cases), St. Martha’s School in Okemos (six cases), Novi High School in Novi (eight cases) and Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville (four cases).

Robert McCann, executive director of the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education, said every superintendent in Michigan is trying to give parents the option of having their child back in the classroom safely. He said, unfortunately, this may not always be possible.

“Superintendents are relying on health officials to determine when — and how — in-person learning should happen,” McCann said. “Schools need clear guidance and up-to-date information from state and local health officials and that’s what we’re hoping for. So, should there be an outbreak, our schools have the information they need and the direction from health experts on how to respond.”

DHHS: 11 K-12 schools, 16 colleges have coronavirus outbreaks

Many factors — such as the lack of ability to conduct effective contact tracing in certain settings — may result in the underreporting of outbreaks, and the data does not provide a “complete picture of school outbreaks in Michigan,” DHHS says. 

DHHS updates its school-related outbreak data every Monday by 3 p.m. You can find all of the school outbreaks on its website.

Some of the colleges and universities reporting new outbreaks are Northern Michigan University (two cases), Alma University (12 cases), Saginaw Valley State University (seven cases) and Madonna University (five cases).

The universities with the highest number of positive cases are currently Michigan State University (533 cases) and Grand Valley State University (694 cases), according to DHHS.

MSU classes are currently fully remote for undergraduate students for the fall semester. Students have been strongly encouraged to self-quarantine by the Ingham County Health Department following outbreaks. 

“This is an urgent situation,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said. “The exponential growth of COVID-19 cases must stop. I am concerned about the health and safety of the MSU community, and importantly, I am seriously concerned that unchecked transmission locally will affect the health and safety of all Ingham County residents. If we do not slow the spread immediately, we will be dealing with the consequences across the county for months to come.”

COVID-19 prompts MSU to switch to remote classes 2 weeks ahead of fall semester start

Since the press release was sent out by the Ingham County Health Department on Sept. 12, cases related to MSU have increased from at least 342 to at least 533.

The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors recently voted to resume the 2020 football season starting the weekend of October 23. MSU President Samuel Stanely Jr. said he supports the decision to allow a modified fall football season. 

MSU Athletics recently announced  — out of 376 student athletes that were tested for COVID-19 — 45 have tested positive.

According to a GVSU press release, the overall number of cases at the university since the fall semester has been, “Concerning to both university community members and public health officials.”

On Wednesday, The Ottawa County Department of Public Health issued a two-week “Staying in Place” order for GVSU students in Allendale Township. 

Michigan has had more than 117,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 6,600 deaths.