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H-PT won’t require vaccinations, masks

HOUGHTON — Houghton-Portage Township Schools does not plan to require masks when students return for the fall, the district announced Thursday.

The district made the announcement on its email listserv to parents. Masks will still be provided for those who want to wear them.

Right now, the district is not planning to require vaccinations, Superintendent Doreen Kramer said.

“I think at this point, people are just interested in knowing what direction we’re heading in,” she said. “We’ve still got seven weeks before school starts, and as people have learned, things can change quickly. We’re hopeful we’ll be able to return with a little bit more normalcy and the way we’ve operated in the past … that’s how we’re going to start off the year, and hopefully we can maintain that throughout the year.”

The decision was based on the low COVID rates being seen locally. As of July 8, the seven-day average in Houghton County was 3.9 daily cases per million. The seven-day average has not gone higher than 11 since June 4.

The district will try to maintain distancing where possible, and continue its cleaning practices. Staff or students are asked to stay home and seek medical advice if they are not feeling well.

Kramer said she has gotten feedback from parents, staff and board members. As with all COVID provisions, it has been mixed, she said.

For parents and students who are still uncomfortable, the district will continue to offer virtual learning through online services. Principals will be sending information to parents in a couple of weeks on what is being offered in their buildings, Kramer said.

“We still want to accommodate parents and students, but generally I think parents also want to get back to normal,” she said.

In the seven weeks before school starts, the district will work with the health department and watch community rates. Kramer is also waiting to see what requirements Michigan High School Athletic Association requirements will have for fall sports.

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