By Megan Kelley
In recent weeks, the United States has seen a large spike in Coronavirus cases. On Nov. 8, the New York Times reported “at least 464 new coronavirus deaths” as well as 103,657 new cases in the United States on that day alone. On average, the U.S. has seen 111,175 new cases each day.
In Michigan, the number of positive cases has exceeded 229,000 and the state lists Oakland County as the leader in cases with 29,849.
Both the state of Michigan and Oakland County are listed at the second-highest risk level (Level D) with Oakland County getting, on average, 378 new cases daily.
LOCS alone has seen several new cases in the last week:
Nov. 2 — Paint Creek Elementary student, last in the building on Oct. 30.
Nov. 3 — Lake Orion High School student, last participating in a swim practice on Oct. 30. A Lake Orion High School staff member also tested positive and was last at LOHS on Nov. 2.
Nov. 5 — Webber Elementary student, last in the building Oct. 30.
Nov. 6 — Lake Orion High School student, last at LOHS on Oct. 29.
Nov. 7 — Pine Tree Center student, last in the building on Oct. 29.
Nov. 8 — Orion Oaks Elementary student, last in the building and on the bus on Nov. 4.
LOCS is working with the Oakland County Health Division in contact tracing for six of these seven reported cases (excluding the case reported on Nov. 7).
While this influx of cases has impacted several Oakland County school districts, causing them to roll back their in-person learning plans (including Rochester Community Schools and Clarkston Community Schools), even if temporarily, Lake Orion Community School’s is proceeding with their in-person learning plan.
“I plan to continue with LOCS on the current path, keeping our in-person elementary and Pine Tree Center students in the buildings because of our staff’s health and safety protocols,” said Superintendent Ben Kirby in a letter to parents on Nov. 4. “Seeing them work so well last week, especially the mask-wearing, with the students and staff, encourages me that our in-person school community understands there is a safe way to experience school.”
LOCS returned elementary students to in-person learning on Oct. 26 and middle and high school students went back at the start of the second semester on Nov. 9.
“We gave our families a couple of options. Over 80 percent of our families looked for the in-person option. That tells you a little about how they feel about the instruction that our students are going to get in the in-person (environment) and you could also say that it gives a level of confidence to how they felt they were coming into our facilities,” Kirby said at a board meeting on Oct. 28.
Kirby regularly provides updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact on decision-making at board meetings, citing the Oakland County Health Division as well as other superintendents in the area.
During their meeting on Oct. 28, The LOCS Board of Education voted to re-approve the COVID-19 Extended Learning Plan. In-person students were back in classrooms on Nov. 9.
The LOCS Board of Education’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the LOCS Administration building.