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MAPS superintendent explains Superior Hills Elementary’s temporary closure

Superintendent Bill Saunders says the positive COVID-19 case, along with staffing concerns, prompted the closure.
Superior Hills Elementary School, Marquette Area Public School District
Superior Hills Elementary School, Marquette Area Public School District(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 8:01 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Marquette Area Public Schools' Superior Hills Elementary is temporarily closed after a staff member there tested positive for COVID-19.

The district was notified of the positive case on Tuesday, Sept. 15. The school has been closed since Thursday.

Superintendent Bill Saunders said several other staff members and a few students were identified as close contacts. All close contacts are required to quarantine for 14 days.

Saunders said because of the number of staff identified as close contacts, there were concerns about properly staffing the building. He said that’s what led to his decision to close the school for two weeks.

He said the Marquette County Health Department notified the district of the positive case but does not give out information as to whether the person was symptomatic or asymptomatic.

As per protocol, Saunders said any staff or student that is showing symptoms is required to quarantine, but it will not always lead to the entire building being shut down.

“If we do send one of them home, they are required to quarantine for 14 days, or in order to come back prior to that 14 days, they would need to have a doctor’s note,” he said.

Saunders said at this time, the school is undergoing deep cleaning in “every nook and cranny” to ensure the school is ready to welcome students and staff back.

He said while the school already has new stringent cleaning protocols in place during the pandemic, it is an added benefit right now to be able to clean the school without staff or students in the building.

In a letter to parents Wednesday, Saunders said students were sent home with Chromebooks to continue online learning during the closure.

Saunders also said he understands the sudden move to online learning can be difficult for some parents, and he appreciates families' cooperation.

“That puts a tremendous amount of strain on our parents and trying to find daycare and other things as their jobs and things continue, so I know how difficult that was," he said. “But I am appreciative of them working with us to make this transition.”

In-person learning will resume Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Saunders also commends students throughout the district for adhering to COVID guidelines, such as wearing face masks, social distancing, and hand washing. He said there have been few issues with students complying with the new rules.

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