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GRPS delays expansion of in-person learning

The school system cited an increased number of COVID-19 cases in Kent County and the upcoming spring break as the reason for the delay.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is delaying a recently approved expansion of hybrid in-person learning until Monday, April 19. K-8th grades were set to begin in-person learning four days a week upon return from Spring break. 

The school system cited an increased number of cases of COVID-19 in Kent County and the upcoming spring break as the reason for the delay. 

"This decision by Grand Rapids Public Schools, well, it's a difficult one for many, it's frustrating," said John Helmholdt, GRPS spokesperson, "but it's consistent with the guidance we had in the past. It's consistent with our practice. And again, it's consistent with following the data, the science, with the guidance of the health experts."

A press release from GRPS said the following: "All students in hybrid in-person in grades K through 8 will maintain their current schedule for the week of April 12. All students in virtual instruction and hybrid in-person preschool, ECSE, and grades 9-12 will maintain their current schedules as well."

GRPS also said the health department is recommending that all unvaccinated  students and staff who travel out of state during spring break be tested before returning to school or quarantine for one week before returning to school. 

Helmholdt said the COVID-19 cases and close contact reports among GRPS students and staff have also been increasing as of late. 

"For a while, it was one or two a week," said Helmholdt, "We're seeing one, or two, or three a day right now. That's either positive students and or staff, along with close contact. So, it's directly correlated with this spike."

Helmholdt also said 1,400 out of 1,880 staff members at GRPS have been vaccinated. As the state and the West Michigan Vaccination Clinic expands eligibility to those 16-years-old and older, many of the district's juniors and seniors, as well as other staff members, have booked their appointments. 

"Vaccines are not required for our students, nor for our staff members," said Helmholdt, "But we are sharing information, and we're encouraging them to take advantage of these options."

Read more information from GRPS.

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