GBCS braces for COVID outbreaks while prioritizing choice

GRAND BLANC — Grand Blanc Community Schools officials are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst as winter approaches in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As many of you are all aware, our area has been hit, experiencing an increase in cases of critical care availability, and our school (district) has followed suit,” said district Superintendent Dr. Trevor Alward.

In the week prior to Thanksgiving, the district experienced a “substantial increase” in cases and school-based exposures, doubling the number of students in quarantine, he said.

Outbreak notices were issued to families in seven of the district’s 12 buildings and, on Monday, Nov. 22, the district nurse reported 35 new cases, Alward said.

Nearly 1,000 students were quarantined at that time, he said.

“Our (Genesee County) health department director recently spoke to lifting the (mask) mandate on Jan. 4,” Alward said. “We’re still awaiting additional information from the health department.”

The board of education has said they want to offer families the choice to wear or not wear masks.

“However, we’ve also made it clear we want to keep our schools open for face-to-face, five days a week,” Alward said. “We are reviewing our options. We are trying to provide choice, but we are also trying to keep our doors open.”

The district is currently testing its remote learning technologies, which have not been activated since the 2020- 21 school year, so as to be prepared in the event of a greater outbreak.

“It’s not likely that our entire district would have to function remotely; it’s more likely individual classrooms would,” Alward said. “We want to thank our parents for their support and patience as we go through all this.”