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Norway shutting down high school for two weeks

North Elementary in IM also going to remote learning only

Norway High School will shift to online instruction for two weeks starting Monday after a high percentage of its students are forced to quarantine due to COVID-19, district officials announced Friday.

The Iron Mountain School District also plans to have its North Elementary School go to two weeks of remote learning starting Monday due to “a large increase in the number of students who are considered close contacts to individuals who have tested positive” for the virus, district administration said in a statement Friday.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday urged a two-week suspension of in-person high school classes, all youth sports and indoor restaurant dining. But she did not order the restrictions, instead asking for voluntary compliance.

Officials at North Dickinson County School District and Forest Park in Crystal Falls said for now they plan to continue face-to-face classes at all levels.

The move in Norway comes after several students tested positive for COVID-19 and others likely are infected, Norway-Vulcan Area School District Superintendent Louis Steigerwald said in a written statement Friday. In all, more than 20% of the high school’s students are under quarantine, he said.

“Due to the number of students coming down with infections, there is concern that the school may become a more primary source of infections,” Steigerwald said in the statement.

“After consultation with our local health department and a hard look at the data … we determined that the safest course of action for students and their families is to step back from in-person learning for the high school as recommended by Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. (Michael) Rice,” Steigerwald said.

All Norway High School activities, sports and sports practices will be on hold as well. Students should expect to resume in-person learning April 26.

The majority of Norway student’s recent infections reportedly arose from a combination of travel during spring break and gatherings outside of school, Steigerwald stated.

Norway-Vulcan elementary and middle school students will continue in-person learning, as no known cases have emerged in those grades.

“If we all take the necessary steps to end this pandemic, hopefully we can come back on April 26 and compete the remainder of the school year in person,” Steigerwald said.

Unlike Norway, Iron Mountain has not seen “a sense of urgency to voluntarily send students back to remote learning for the next two weeks” at the high school level, according to a written statement from Superintendent Jerome Sardina.

The elementary school, however, has had “a large increase in the number of students who are considered close contacts to individuals who have tested positive,” Sardina said.

Given the number of students forced to quarantine, Iron Mountain also will turn back to remote learning from Monday to April 26 for early kindergarten through fourth grade.

Iron Mountain-Kingsford Community Schools will keep the North Child Care open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the two weeks. Families are asked to contact Community Schools for scheduling and information at 906-779-2660 or email to imkcs@imschools.org.

The district will continue to monitor the middle and high school levels and how this could affect spring sports, though no decision has been made at this time, according to the statement.

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