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Community updates: Tuesday, Oct. 20

Grand Rapids Public Schools extends online-only learning through Jan. 2021; City of Grand Rapids urges residents to follow COVID-19 precautions during Halloween activities.
Fall in Grand Rapids.

Fall in Grand Rapids. /Kurt Johnson

Grand Rapids Public Schools extends online-only learning through Jan. 2021

Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is sticking to online-only learning for all of its students through the rest of the semester, GRPS leaders announced Monday.

The decision by GRPS leaders to maintain online-only learning comes in response to a resurgence in new COVID-19 cases in Kent County. A hybrid in-person learning option for students is now planned for next semester’s Jan. 4 start.

Since the start of school, we have been monitoring the data and seeking guidance and direction from the state and county health authorities as we prepared for the implementation of our hybrid in-person instruction, which was slated to start on Oct. 26,” the leaders said in a statement, attributed to GRPS Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby and others.

The reality is the data is headed in the wrong direction for Kent County and the back and forth with potential closings will be more disruptive than just staying virtual now,” they continued.

As of Friday, Kent County’s rate of tests coming back positive had risen to around 4.5 percent – “a significant increase from previous weeks” according to the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). The county was averaging around 2 percent for its test positivity rate in mid-August, just before the 2020-21 school year began on Aug. 25

Before Monday’s extension of the online format, also known as distance learning, for all students, the district was planning a hybrid in-person learning option starting in mid-Oct. The option was being offered alongside a 100% distance learning option for students’ parents or guardians who still wished for their children to learn from home.

Other than GRPS-affiliated sporting events, the only GRPS activity that will still take place in-person for students this semester is seniors taking their SAT tests. Seniors will take their tests in-person on Oct. 27, returning home after finishing.

We want to assure students and families that we will continue to find ways to strengthen and improve the virtual learning experience and the supports for all students, particularly those with the greatest needs,” district leaders added.

A Monday press conference about the distance learning extension, held by the leaders, is available to view on the GRPS’ YouTube page.


City of Grand Rapids urges residents to follow COVID-19 precautions during Halloween activities

The City of Grand Rapids is urging residents to follow public health recommendations for this year’s Halloween activities, during a month in which the KCHD’s reporting an uptick in area COVID-19 cases.

In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Grand Rapids wants families to have a fun and safe Halloween by following the recommendations issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), KCHD, and the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD),the city announced in a Monday statement.

While COVID-based restrictions on social gatherings are in place across Michigan, no restrictions exclusive to trick-or-treating activities have been issued by state officials.

Among guidance issued by the MDHHS and KCHD are many familiar to Michiganders, such as maintaining six-feet distance, frequent hand-washing or hand sanitizing, and wearing face coverings. Others are specific to Halloween activities like trick-or-treating and wearing costumes in public.

Recommendations for parents and trick-or-treaters include participating in one-way trick-or-treating along sidewalks, wearing face coverings underneath costume masks unless it causes difficulty breathing, only going to houses with safety measures in place, and more.

For homeowners, the MDHHS recommends using duct tape to mark six-feet lines in front of one’s home and leading to the front door, positioning a distribution table between oneself and trick-or-treaters, handing out candy in an open space, and more.

The GRPD’s recommended trick-or-treating hours for Grand Rapidians are 6-8pm on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Consider refraining from Halloween gatherings this year or use an online meeting platform to have a virtual party instead,” the city’s statement continued.

Full public health guidance for this year’s Halloween activities are available on the MDHHS’ website, as well as the CDC’s.


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