COVID-19 cases confirmed in WWPS days after district resumes in-person learning

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published October 2, 2020

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WARREN — On Sept. 28, Warren Woods Public Schools opened its buildings for in-person learning after conducting virtual schooling Aug. 31 through Sept. 25.

Approximately 50% of the entire student body returned for in-person schooling, and 50% will continue with virtual learning until the end of the semester.

On Oct. 1, the Macomb County Health Department identified a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a person at Pinewood Elementary and a second case in a person at Warren Woods Tower High School. It was not immediately clear if the cases were students or staff.

School was open for in-person learning Oct. 2.

On Oct. 1, Superintendent Stacey Denewith-Fici sent two letters, one on the Pinewood case and one on the WWTHS case, to parents explaining that the MCHD and district were working together to identify persons who may have been exposed.

“If your child was identified as a close contact, you have already received notification from building administration; all close contact individuals have been identified and contacted by the principal,” Denewith-Fici stated in the letter. “If you have not been contacted this evening, your student was not in close contact and should continue to attend school as normal. We are required by the MCHD to inform you of these cases.”

The letter stated the virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to spread mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

“Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes). Illness begins 2 to 14 days after a person is exposed,” according to the letter. “The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: fever, cough, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, runny or stuffy nose, loss of taste or smell and abdominal pain.”

Parents were encouraged to visit the website for more information.

“It is in situations like this that it is important to recognize the district safety protocols established in our Return to School Plan,” the letter states. “Staff and students must wear masks and encourage proper social distancing. Thank you to our staff and students for their daily efforts to maintain our health and safety protocols. We appreciate your continued support.”

According to Denewith-Fici, parents earlier completed surveys indicating their choice for the remainder of the semester, either return for face-to-face instruction or stay 100% virtual.

“We know that the best place for students to learn is in person with their teachers and their peers so we wanted to get those who wanted face-to-face back as soon as possible,” Denewith-Fici said in an email, before the positive cases were announced.

She earlier said that students had adapted “well” to the new safety protocols.

“The mask wearing has not been an issue for our students, and they are adjusting to the one-way hallways and maintaining social distancing,” Denewith-Fici said earlier. “Our staff has been amazing, making sure that everything was prepared and safe for students to return. Teachers worked tirelessly to plan and prepare to welcome students back or to continue with them in a virtual environment. I know for many of them, it was like their first year of teaching all over again, but we are so thankful for their passion and expertise.”