Patchin excited for Hancock’s return to classrooms and sports Monday

HANCOCK — The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) gave the go ahead for face-to-face learning to resume in the Hancock School District on Monday, Oct. 12.

In a conference call with area superintendents, WUPHD stated that they were comfortable with students returning classrooms, said Steve Patchin in a Wednesday email. Patchin said the announcement also means that fall sports will resume their seasons on Monday.

“On our conference call with the WUPHD were representatives from U.P. Health – Portage and Upper Great Lakes who operate many clinics in the area,” said Patchin. “Both stated their services are not overtaxed, but operating at a comfortable level of service with adequate capacity. They urged us to communicate to you that they have many safety protocols in place to preserve your ongoing health, so please don’t put off needed medical procedures. See your doctor if you are feeling ill, they are ready to help you feel better!

On Sept. 25, the WUPHD informed schools in Houghton County that they needed to move to online learning for weeks in order for them to catch up with COVID-19 testing results and the associated contact tracing that accompanies positive results.

On Monday, Oct. 5, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon, issued an Emergency Order under MCL 333.2253, Patchin said. Under this order, students in grades K-12 will wear masks at K-12 schools, except for those school districts in areas still in Phase 5 of the economic recovery. This means that students in grades K-5 who previously did not have to wear facial coverings while in their classrooms, will now need to wear facial coverings in their classrooms upon their return. K-5 students will still not wear facial coverings while eating lunch or on the playground at recess. This will continue while the area remains in economic Phase 4.

On Tuesday, Gordon issued an Emergency Order requiring K-12 schools to provide public notice to the school community about probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 24 hours. This order requires local health departments to notify schools within 24 hours of learning of a probable or confirmed school-associated case of COVID-19.

“Hancock Public Schools will be providing this information on its main webpage at www.hancock.k12.mi.us,” said Patchin. “I will continue to update you on these results in my weekly emails to you, following routines we already have in place. This order goes into effect on Monday October 12.”

Patchin said the Hancock Public Schools Education Team is excited to bring the students back into the classrooms for face-to-face instruction.

“Please make sure you pack some extra smiles and a bit of laughter in their backpacks to share with the education team and their peers!” he said. “Stay tuned for more information coming from our teachers and principals regarding our Return to Learning.”

In a Thursday morning email, Barkell Elementary School Principal Dan Vaara that for those families who stream, and will be streaming next week, pickup for materials is this Friday from Noon to 3:30 p.m..

For those families that have borrowed Chromebooks, said Vaara, please “return with your child or please drop them off on Monday. These are used every day for instruction.”


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