Health protocols appear to be mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at Everett High School, Lansing School District, officials say.
Everett students returned to in-person learning this fall after spending the 2020-2021 school year online along with the rest of the Lansing School District. The school is following recommended health measures from the Ingham County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, district leaders say.
These measures include mandatory masking in indoor settings, as well as recommended vaccination, social distancing, health monitoring and quarantine periods.
“All staff and students at the Lansing School District must be masked if they are inside unless they are eating,” said Gabrielle Lawrence, president of the Lansing School District Board of Education.
Lawrence said students are kept in small groups, called cohorts, to minimize close contact.
“Students are kept in cohorts all day so that if someone gets COVID, only the students in that cohort would have to quarantine, as opposed to the entire class,” she said.
Home to 1,652 students, Everett High School has had 13 positive COVID-19 cases this school year.
Lansing School District spokesperson Robert Kolt was encouraged with how health strategies implemented by the school have limited COVID cases.
“We’ve been pleased and happy that the case numbers have been so low throughout the school district, not only at Everett but also at other schools,” Kolt said. “What we’ve found is that students aren’t really contracting COVID at school, but the cases that we have are usually within a family that go to that school. So, we’ve done a good job mitigating any spread of COVID.”
But Eddie Kerr, a sophomore at Everett High, said that students have been inconsistent in following the COVID protocol.
“It’s a very mixed bag of actual safety,” Kerr said. “I see the teachers trying really hard to make people keep their masks on. A lot of people just wear it under their noses. The hallways always are incredibly packed. They are trying their best, but there is only so much they can do in a public school.”
Kerr said she did not personally know any of the students who have gotten COVID, but was encouraged with how the school has handled the cases.
“I know that anyone who has been exposed has been sent home and has done two weeks quarantine, so that’s good,” Kerr said.
Students who come in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are expected to quarantine and self-monitor for 14 days, while students who are a confirmed positive case isolate for 10 days.
Lawrence said the district is in negotiations with employee unions to require staff to show proof of vaccination or undergo daily testing.
The Lansing School District is also adding 23 medical assistants across all schools. These assistants will help with student medical care and COVID-19 protocols.
“We’ve had a lot of strategies that we’ve implemented that have helped keep COVID numbers and cases down,” Kolt said. “We’ve gone a long way to control the virus as much as possible.”