July 20, 2021

RE: COVID-19 and the 2021-22 School Year

Throughout the last school year, Berrien RESA, local school district administrators and Berrien County Health Department officials met nearly every week to make decisions about the health and safety of the education community relative to COVID-19. This collective team has continued to meet over the summer, analyzing both community spread and vaccination rates, as well as reviewing the success of the mitigation strategies used to eliminate the spread of the disease in schools. We now have turned our focus to next school year.

The Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have recommended we approach the 2021-22 year with the concept of “flexible mitigation” or a layered approach to managing the spread of COVID-19. This means that as long as the Health Department determines spread to be low, students and staff will start the year without masks in the classroom, social distancing or cohorting. Should the number of cases in Berrien County increase, layers of our mitigation strategy as outlined in our COVID-19 Learning Plan will temporarily increase, meaning that students may need to wear masks, social distance or cohort for a few weeks to stop the spread.

If COVID-19 rates remain low, we anticipate starting the school year with the following provisions:

  • In-person Learning – It is anticipated that instruction will be offered in-person. Virtual programming for center-based students will not be provided.
  • Face Coverings – Staff, students, and guests will not be required to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Vaccines – Although encouraged, COVID-19 vaccination is not required for students nor staff.
  • COVID-19 Testing – Students and staff will not be tested unless mandated by health officials.
  • Positive cases (Isolation) – Per the Berrien County Health Department, people who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for 10 days.
  • Quarantines - Students and staff who are not vaccinated and are designated a close contact to a positive COVID-19 case will need to quarantine for 10 days.*
  • Communication – The district will continue to share probable and positive cases of COVID-19 with staff and district families.

* Those who wish to self-identify and can verify they have been vaccinated, will not need to quarantine.

As always, the district will encourage students and staff to practice frequent handwashing and to stay home if they are sick. Daily health monitoring will also be encouraged. Additionally, learning and work environments will continue to be cleaned and disinfected, as appropriate.

Detailed information about each of the recommended COVID-19 mitigation layers will be shared with you later this summer in our revised version of the Berrien RESA COVID-19 Learning Plan. 


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