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Community updates: Thursday, Dec. 9

Grand Rapids Public Schools extends mask mandate through end of school year; World of Winter Festival returns to downtown Grand Rapids next month; and WYCE bringing back Jammie Awards in Feb.
Downtown Grand Rapids at sunset.

Downtown Grand Rapids at sunset. /Experience Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Public Schools extends mask mandate through end of school year

The requiring of face masks at all Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) has been extended through the end of the 2021-22 school year, the district announced Monday.

Originally set to expire Jan. 2, GRPS cited Kent County’s COVID-19 positivity and vaccination rates as reasons for its extension. At 23.1 percent, the county’s test positivity rate is at the “Highest Risk Level” based on the district’s metrics. The county’s rate for residents fully vaccinated stands at 60.3 percent—short of the district’s goal of 70 percent.

GRPS’ mask mandate applies to all students, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

We will continue to monitor the data,” said GRPS Superintendent Leadriane Roby in a Monday letter to GRPS families. “If the data and risk levels shift to ‘low risk,’ we will reconsider the decision at that time.”

Roby also reminded families that children age five and older are now eligible in the U.S. for the COVID-19 vaccine. Parents or guardians may schedule a vaccine for their child by visiting, contacting their healthcare provider, or visiting a participating pharmacy.

COVID-19 testing and vaccination resources are available to GRPS families through the district’s website.


World of Winter Festival returns to downtown Grand Rapids next month

Downtown Grand Rapids will again be host to a two-month long winter festival featuring free outdoor events, ice sculptures, and public art.

The fifth annual World of Winter Festival kicks off Jan. 7, with its headliner Valent-ICE event happening in Feb. and a new addition of over 10 large international art installations. The festival is organized by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Other events part of the festival include a Lunar New Year storytelling, Black history commemoration, and Native American tribal stories, among others.

World of Winter runs through March 7. A full schedule of its activities is available at


WYCE bringing back Jammie Awards in Feb.

Community radio station WYCE 88.1fm is bringing back its Jammie Awards in 2022, after a year off due to the pandemic.

Happening Saturday, Feb. 12, the event will celebrate Michigan musical acts through live performances and awards honoring the year’s best releases. Barring last year, the Jammies have been held annually since 2000 at The Intersection in Grand Rapids’ downtownthis 22nd Awards no exception.

The Jammies are free to the public and local music fans can vote for this year’s “Artist of the Year” through WYCE’s online ballot. Unique to 2022, the Jammies will encompass two years of new releases and upcoming artists in light of last year’s cancellation.

Concert goers will also experience new awards focused on the spirit of ‘collaboration over competition,’” the station said in a news release last week. “WYCE is partnering with Michigan Music Alliance to present The Ovations. These new awards focus on community builders and celebrate their efforts to enrich a supportive, sustainable, engaging, and collaborative music scene in West Michigan.”

WYCE will also be collecting donations for the station during its event, as well non-perishable food items for Feeding America West Michigan.

The lineup for Jammies XXII is forthcoming and will be made available on WYCE’s website.


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