By Megan Kelley
The Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education met last Wednesday on the heels of a press conference that har occurred the week before, during which Governor Whitmer asked that schools voluntarily switch high schools back to remote learning and put a pause on youth sports.
While LOCS remained in-person and sports continued as scheduled, Superintendent Ben Kirby’s routine COVID-19 update was sure to provide information as to why changes have not been made.
The request from Gov. Whitmer came only a few hours after an Oakland County superintendent’s meeting where the health department supported in-person instruction based on several factors; low transmission rates in schools, the continuation of mitigation strategies, vaccinations for those who are 16-years-old or older and stable hospital data in the area, Kirby said.
“We respect the governor’s request and considered it while looking out our district circumstances. This internal review that we should be looking at within our district and consulting with our health department has been the guidance from the very beginning,” Kirby said. “The governor and MDHHS (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) have the authority to prevent in-person instruction as evidenced by previous action. As school districts, we are focused on our vision as an organization and our ability to educate and operate successfully while considering the whole child, including emotional, mental and physical safety.
“A week before the governor’s request, LOCS returned from spring break and successfully provided in-person instruction while seeing operational capacity improving as the week progressed,” Kirby said.
As of the time of the meeting, LOCS was not seeing data that would suggest it was time to switch students back to remote learning.
“As of April 6, we had a total of 52 positive cases in our district boundaries for students ages 14-18, which would basically encompass our high school students. This data is representative of our entire school district boundaries and not necessarily LOCS students. We serve approximately 2,000 students in-person, should we volunteer to pause in-person instruction for less than a three percent positivity rate?” Kirby said.
Additionally, as of April 14, only two out of the 543 student-athletes that are being tested weekly, received positive a test result.
“The decision to continue with in-person instruction in grades 9-12 was made with great care and consideration. For all of our students, we will continue to attack the challenges of today, and there are many, to make a better tomorrow for our Dragon students,” said Kirby. “There may come a time that we recognize that operational challenges cause us to flip to remote instruction in a building or our district. There may come a time that the health officials require us to flip to remote education, to be part of a community plan to improve community spread. In the meantime, we will continue to inspire our students through education, social/emotional support and the life experiences they need to continue their growth as learners and productive members of the Dragon community.”
LOCS is expected to maintain its current in-person learning model with hopes that they can continue it throughout the remainder of the school year.
The LOCS Board of Education is scheduled to meet in-person at the district administration building at 6:30 p.m. on April 28.