2 Ann Arbor Public Schools buildings will have virtual learning next week, superintendent says

ANN ARBOR, MI — Ann Arbor Public Schools will offer in-person classes next week in most of their buildings, with the exception of Skyline High School and Pathways to Success, with students participating in virtual learning.

AAPS provided the update for the coming week on Friday evening, January 14, noting that all other buildings in the district would return to in-person classes after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Tuesday, January 18 .

“As we prioritize health and safety, we also value a school-based educational experience for as many students as possible, on as many days as we can reasonably and safely do so this school year,” Superintendent Jeanice Swift wrote in a district update Friday .

While two buildings have been impacted by staff absences and COVID-19 cases, a shortage of bus drivers coupled with the added challenges related to the current spike in COVID-19 cases has resulted in AAPS canceling 20 bus routes earlier this week. The routes are expected to be restored on January 24th.

The district this week saw an increase in COVID-19 cases from 26 students and eight staff members last week to 52 students and 22 staff members who tested positive the previous week. This week, however, another 87 staff and student cases were reported to the AAPS, but they did not appear on the dashboard because they were not on a school campus or district during their infectious time.

Many AAPS students and staff returned to in-person classes this week after the district canceled school for a few days after returning from winter break before moving to distance learning through Jan. 10.

However, some schools, including Ann Arbor Open School, A2 STEAM, Slauson Middle School and Bach Elementary School, have remained in virtual learning for the past week based on positive COVID-19 case data.

While AAPS and other districts across the county and state have seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases since a return from winter recess, the Washtenaw County Health Department changed its quarantine guidelines for K-12 schools on Thursday, Jan. 6 and allowed students and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 to return to the classroom and other activities after five days if they no longer have symptoms.

The guidance recommends that students or staff who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, isolate at home for at least five days after symptoms appear.

If the person has no symptoms or the symptoms “resolve” by day five, the health department recommends that they can exit quarantine and return to the classroom while continuing to wear a well-fitting KN95 or N95 surgical mask until day ten .

The updated guidance also includes new definitions of lower-risk and higher-risk environments for students and staff exposed to COVID-19 in school settings, with exposures in lower-risk school settings such as classrooms, buses, lunches and most extracurricular activities not requiring contact tracing , ie no required quarantine.

AAPS is reviewing the updated guidance from the Washtenaw County Department of Health, said AAPS spokesman Andrew Cluley, and is asking for clarification on the details of the implementation and evaluation of any required operational changes.

In her update for the district, Swift said school nurses are already implementing some aspects of the guidance.

“We will be sharing implementation plan details with staff and the AAPS community next week,” Swift said.


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