Schools & Daycares
Back to School for 2021-2022 school year
The health and safety of our Berrien County students, staff, and families is of utmost importance. Schools provide safe, supportive learning environments for students as well as critical services including school meal programs and social, physical, behavioral, and mental health services. Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority. Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports. In addition, schools will need to continue other COVID-19 prevention strategies as they remain critical to protect students, teachers, and staff, who are not fully vaccinated.
Information about Public Health Orders issued requiring masks in educational settings can be found here.
MDHHS Updated Guidance for k-12 school exposures/quarantines to Covid-19
In September 2021, MDHHS updated the guidance for school quarantines for asymptomatic students who were exposed to a student infected with COVID-19 that varies depending on a variety of circumstances. In all scenarios, the student who has tested positive for COVID-19 should isolate and follow directions from their local health department.
Layers of Defense Against COVID-19 in Schools
Schools can layer multiple prevention strategies to prevent transmission within school buildings, reduce disruptions to in-person learning, and help protect the people who are not fully vaccinated or eligible for vaccination, which currently includes all children under the age of 12 years. All prevention strategies provide some level of protection, and layered strategies implemented at the same time provide the greatest level of protection. In addition to vaccination, routine handwashing and cough/sneeze etiquette, physical distancing where possible, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
Monitoring COVID-19 Community Transmission & Prevention Strategies
The Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) will provide ongoing monitoring of community transmission in Berrien County and the surrounding region. This data surveillance allows the Health Department to support school leaders in making informed and educated decisions that are best for school operations, students and staff. BCHD will provide regular updates and adjust recommendations to schools based on the CDC’s predesignated indicators and thresholds for community transmission of COVID-19.
Please keep in mind that as new health and safety information becomes available, school districts may need to update their individual district plans. (Individual plans can be found on each school district’s website.) School districts will also continue to communicate with students, parents/guardians and staff members so that everyone understands what they can expect when school resumes this fall.
Berrien County Health Department continues to provide updates regarding best practices for COVID-19 prevention strategies. See the latest guidance and recommendations issued to school/educational leaders.