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September 2, 2021

Dear Munising Public Schools Family,

I hope all of you have had a wonderful summer!  The entire school staff is anxiously awaiting the opening of school on Tuesday, September 7th and seeing students again.  We want to remind everyone of the protocols that students will encounter again this school year. 

Current COVID-19 Protocols

  • We recommend and encourage any individuals within our school buildings 12 years of age and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine.  We also respect your individual decisions.
  • Masks/facial coverings for all students and staff are required indoors. All spectators at indoor athletic events will also be required to wear a mask/facial covering. Both schools will have disposable masks available again for students if needed.  Any student or staff member who cannot medically tolerate a facial covering or is incapacitated or unable to remove the facial covering without assistance will not need to wear one.  Mask exemption forms are available in the school office, and need to be signed by a physician to be valid.
  • Masks on school buses are required.  Disposable masks for students will also be available on all buses.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will continue to be available in school buildings and on buses.
  • School buildings will continue to be cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis.
  • Parents or guardians should monitor their children’s temperature at home every morning before sending their child to school; students with a temperature of 100.4 or greater should stay home and consider COVID testing if no other explanation is available.  Parents or guardians should also ask their children to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, congestion, shortness of breath, or gastrointestinal symptoms every morning.  If a child has any of these symptoms, parents or guardians need to keep the student home from school.
  • Social distancing will continue where feasible.
  • We will follow MHSAA guidelines for our student-athletes for all athletic events. There is no masking requirement from the MHSAA at this time for the student-athletes.  Home games will be live streamed on the NFHS Network to accommodate those that cannot attend.
  • We will follow LMAS quarantine protocols in identifying close contacts.  Students and staff that are fully vaccinated and are symptom free will not need to quarantine if they are identified as close contacts.

As Superintendent, I feel it is my responsibility to keep our students and staff safe, and thus recommended to our Board of Education to require masks/facial coverings indoors to start the 2021-2022 school year.  I made the recommendation based on the following:

  • COVID-19 spreads easier when groups of people from separate households gather together indoors.  The more contagious Delta variant, combined with the low vaccination percentage of our students (0% vaccinated up to age 12, 31.5% vaccinated in the 12-19 age category in Alger County) creates a situation where COVID-19 can spread easily in classrooms if students are not wearing masks.
  • We want to maintain in-person instruction throughout the school year, and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 amongst our students and staff greatly increases the likelihood of continued in-person instruction.
  • The LMAS (Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Schoolcraft) District Health Department issued a Public Health Advisory on Friday, August 27, 2021, once again strongly advising to wear a mask in all indoor settings when around people who do not live in your immediate household, regardless of vaccination status. Per the LMAS Advisory, ICU bed availability is also extremely tight in Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula hospitals.

I will continue to review data with the LMAS District Health Department on a weekly basis, and, in conjunction with the Board of Education, will recommend lifting the mask mandate when COVID cases, community transmission rates, hospital capacities, etc., dictate easing the requirement.  

Other Items

  • All of our six traditional bus runs will be in place as in previous school years.   Students will have to wear a mask on the bus and sanitize their hands when entering the bus.  We do not have any substitute bus drivers to start the year, so bus runs may need to be combined on certain days.
  • Due to the M-28 road construction project, the crosswalk on M-28 near the Middle/High School will not be operable to start the school year.  The sidewalks on both sides of the highway are also under construction, so until students can safely cross the highway, we are recommending that any students who typically walked to school in previous years should be driven to school, or ride one of our school buses.  Our buses make stops in town at the Krist Oil Station on the east end of town at 7:30am; near the Mather Elementary Chocolay Street door at 7:30am; at the intersection of Cherry Street and Superior Street at 7:40am; and at the intersection of Hemlock Street and Superior Street at 7:45am.  We are continuing to work with the Michigan Department of Transportation to provide a safe area for students to cross the highway.  We will keep everyone posted once a safe crossing area can be established.
  • The doors at Mather Elementary will open at 8:00am.  If students are eating breakfast at school, they should get their “Grab and Go” bag in the lobby and go to their classroom.  Other students should go directly to their classroom.  The doors at the Middle/High School will open by 7:30am to allow students time to eat breakfast in the cafeteria.
  • Family members, guests or visitors will not be allowed in the school buildings except under extenuating circumstances.  We will make every attempt to accommodate parents if there is an important reason to enter the school building.
  • Water fountains will once again be turned off in each school.  The bottle filling stations at the fountains will still be on, so students should bring a water bottle to school to use during the day.

We are looking forward to having students back in the school buildings!  We know our students and staff are up to the challenge, and as always, we thank our parents and community members for your continued support.  GO STANGS!

Pete Kelto, Superintendent