KINGSLEY — Declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the Grand Traverse region meant a slice of a somewhat normal high school experience for Kingsley students.
Saturday night marked the district’s first high school prom in the pandemic era. Kingsley Area Schools Superintendent Keith Smith said Monday that rapid COVID-19 testing of students showed zero positives.
“That’s a big sigh of relief,” Smith said. “You kind of hold your breath because you’re always judged after the fact.”
School officials hope to breathe a few more sighs of relief as the school year marches on. With proms already taking place, graduations for high school seniors are right on their heels.
Traverse City Area Public Schools Superintendent John VanWagoner is meeting with his staff Tuesday to discuss how they will handle graduation. VanWagoner said they are awaiting guidance from the state, but talks about possible venues and other details are ongoing.
Graduation ceremonies for students from Traverse City Central and Traverse City West Senior high schools have long been hosted at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. The ceremony for students from Traverse City High, the district’s alternative high school, usually take place in the auditorium at Central Grade School. All three events shifted online last school year.
VanWagoner said he expects to have more information in the coming days about what graduation for TCAPS students will look like.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 21 new school outbreaks with 189 positive school-associated cases across Michigan. Kalkaska Public Schools, which reported six new cases Friday, was the only district in the five-county area to be added to the list of new outbreaks.
Other districts announcing school-associated positives in the past week included Benzie Central (6), Glen Lake (2), Mancelona (1) and Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools (1).
Leland, Frankfort, Benzie, Glen Lake, Manton, TCAPS, the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Children’s House and Mancelona all have schools on the MDHHS list of ongoing outbreaks. However, the numbers are down significantly from just weeks ago when the MDHHS was reporting nearly 100 new outbreaks a week and hundreds more cases.
Interlochen Center for the Arts could soon be off the ongoing list. In-person classes resumed on April 21 after an outbreak of 14 people, including both students and staff, earlier last month. Learning went remote and all students remained off campus after school officials learned of a possible COVID-19 exposure on April 7. Interlochen has conducted more than 15,000 tests with a .4 percent positivity rate this school year. The latest round of tests found zero positive results.
More than 320 Interlochen students are set to get their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday. Two more groups of students will get their second doses on May 11 and May 20.