COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information
February 23, 2021 Update
(posted at 8:44am)
Since the pandemic began, more aspects than normal are outside of our control. The board and I strive to make decisions in the best interest of the school community with an eye on being proactive. Being proactive allows us to be predictable, which is more important than normal with so much beyond our control.
As discussed at the last board meeting, and mentioned in the letter home to families that followed that meeting, Northport Public School will be remote/virtual for one day this Friday, February 26th). Approximately 80% of the school staff should receive their second dose of the vaccine on Thursday. Districts across the state have faced a large number of staff absences the day after the shot, which has caused districts to call “snow days” the morning after the shot when they have not had sufficient staff to safely run a normal school day. So although being remote is not convenient for anyone involved, it is more convenient, and predictable, than receiving a robocall at 7:00 AM when we have insufficient staff and must close for the day.
In order to provide the best instruction possible, we are not adopting a one-size-fits-all approach for Friday. I am aware that this allows for more confusion, but not every situation is the same. Not every teacher is receiving a second dose. Some teachers did not have a bad reaction to their first vaccine and plan on powering through the second one (I don’t think that would have been easily possible for me after my first dose). Some students don’t normally take their Chromebooks home and some teachers don’t want to try to juggle that. The list of variables goes on, but I think my point is clear that every classroom is a bit different.
Teachers have been given the option to provide synchronous instruction (think Google Meet similar to when we were remote before) or asynchronous instruction (think paper packet homework). For our elementary students, their schedules will be communicated to families by their teachers. Our secondary teachers will be sure that each student knows what is expected of them for Friday and will post a brief summary of their schedules on Otus. Please do your best to help your child(ren) be successful on Friday, but if something does not work as planned, it is just one day so please do not panic.
If you have any questions, please reach out before Friday by contacting your child(ren)’s teacher(s) or call the office at 386-5153.
Here’s to one more step on our road back to normalcy. Thank you for your support and understanding. Looking forward to Monday where we return to our current hybrid plan.
Neil Wetherbee, Superintendent
February 9, 2021 Update
(posted at 1:42pm)
Dear Northport Public School Families,
I hope that this letter finds you and your family safe and healthy. It goes without saying that the last 12 months have been unlike any other year we’ve experienced. In November as the number of COVID-19 cases climbed in the area and the upcoming holidays likely to increase those numbers, the Northport Public School Board voted to move the district to fully remote learning. The Board reconfirmed this decision in December. At the January meeting, the number of cases showed a steady decline, and staff vaccinations seemed imminent. The Board voted to extend remote learning one additional month.
Since the January meeting, the number of daily new cases continued to drop across the state and our community. The numbers now are the best they’ve been since about the start of the school year. Additionally, 79% of the school staff received their first vaccinations with another 12% being vaccinated this week. All told to date, 91% of the staff elected to be vaccinated. Furthermore, all other school districts across the region are again offering in-person instruction with no concerning transmission within schools. The Board voted unanimously to return to the same hybrid instruction in-place prior to going virtual. Students who want in-person instruction will have that option starting Tuesday, February 16th (No school for anyone on Monday, February 15th as it is the district’s mid-winter long weekend).
The school staff will assume that every student is resuming the same method of instruction prior to the district going remote in November unless you tell the office otherwise (386-5153). With that being said, the Board and staff know that many families have legitimate medical concerns regarding in-person instruction, but the school strongly encourages all students who can attend in-person to do so. In-person learning allows for needed socialization and closer support from teachers.
At the meeting last night, the Board discussed, at length, the need to provide families with guidance regarding their intentions at the March meeting. The Board explicitly stated that if the COVID-19 data continues with its current trend, the Board will vote to offer only in-person learning starting March 15th. Again, the school would prefer to see all students in-person starting next week, and the Board intends to no longer offer a remote option after this month. This decision will be confirmed at the March 8th Board Meeting.
Finally, the 79% of staff who received their first dose of vaccine are scheduled for their second dose on Thursday, February 25th. With as many as a third of people receiving their second shot potentially not being able to comfortably report to work the next day, we are at risk of missing a large portion of our staff on Friday, February 26th. For this reason, Friday, February 26th will be remote for all students. More details to follow.
As throughout this process, thank you all for your continued support as we work to navigate these unprecedented circumstances. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
February 16th – Hybrid resumes
February 26th – One day remote
March 15th – Everyone in-person
Neil Wetherbee, Superintendent
January 12, 2021 Update
(posted at 10:22am)
January 12, 2021
I am writing today to provide you with an update from last night’s school board meeting. As required by the state, our board must reconfirm our district learning plan once a month throughout the duration of the pandemic. At the November board meeting, as COVID-19 cases increased, they made the decision to return the district to remote learning through January 15th. They reconfirmed this decision at the December board meeting. Last night they voted to remain remote through February 15th.
They did not come lightly to the decision to remain remote. They reviewed survey data from staff and families. They reflected on the most recent guidance from the governor. They looked over current COVID-19 data from multiple sources. They listened to public comments, and they debated the decision thoroughly.
The meeting provided two consistent take-aways. First, every public comment expressed the difficulty of coming to a decision of this magnitude and expressed an appreciation for not having to be the person making the decision. Second, there is no doubt that everyone who spoke or had a vote last night had the school community’s best interest at heart. It was not a decision based on what is easy nor what other districts are doing; it was a decision based on what the board thought was best for our community. By the targeted return date, all staff who so desires should be fully vaccinated.
I know for some families this decision is a relief. For others, this decision is very frustrating. I know this to be true because this debate lives within my own house. Some members of my family felt relief and appreciation for the decision. Others felt quite frustrated and let down by it. There are no easy answers to these tough questions. Please remember that even if you disagree with the decision, the board made it with careful, thorough deliberation and everyone’s best interest in mind. The board will reconfirm our plan again, with an opportunity for public comments, on February 8th.
As always, please let me know how I can be of assistance, and know that I feel the struggles of learning remotely. The end truly is in sight, and we will emerge stronger and better.
Proud to be a Wildcat.
Neil Wetherbee, Superintendent
MDHHS extends epidemic order 12 days to ensure COVID-19 surge is stabilizing
Indoor and outdoor gatherings to remain limited, department to closely monitor hospital beds with COVID patients, rate of case growth, positivity rate prior to re-engagement
LANSING, MICH. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has extended by 12 days the epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities. The additional 12 days will allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan. Governor Whitmer discussed the department’s action today at a press conference with Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and DHHS Director Robert Gordon.
To view the PowerPoint presentation used at the press conference today, click the link below:
December 7, 2020 Update
(posted at 03:22pm)
November 16, 2020 Update
(posted at 11:44am)
November 16, 2020
Dear Northport Families,
As we move through these trying times, I am continually appreciative of our school community. Last week I communicated that Northport Public School intended to go remote from November 30th through January 15th. We strongly felt that we could make it to Thanksgiving safely, but the data supported a pause from in-person learning during this current spike in infections nationwide and the upcoming holidays. We provided staff and families two weeks' notice so that we could all be prepared with child care and high-quality instruction.
Unfortunately, on Sunday, November 15th, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released new guidance. The guidance orders all Michigan high schools closed to in-person instruction starting November 18th. Given this new order, the board’s decision last week, and current levels of quarantining, the entire Northport Public School district will be remote starting Wednesday, November 18th. We know this short notice is inconvenient, but we appreciate your flexibility.
More specific grade level communication is forthcoming. However, there are a few overarching guidelines to share:
- Students should expect to attend live Google Meets everyday…
- in the elementary from about 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM with additional small group and other sessions after lunch.
- in the secondary from 9:00 AM to 12:35 PM with work time and office hours in the afternoon.
- Daily attendance and participation in all Google Meets is expected
- Normal grades and learning expectations will continue.
- You received communication in the fall regarding Otus.com – in order to streamline communication for parents, all expectations will be posted in Otus.
We have two final requests. If at all possible, please send your students to school tomorrow. On Tuesday students will be able to pick up all of their materials, touch base with their teachers, and be set up for success over the next couple of months. However, if your child(ren) cannot attend tomorrow, we need your patience in gathering your child(ren)’s supplies. The state shortened our deadline by a week yesterday, and we need to allow teachers to put together all of the items for your children.
Again, we thank you for your understanding. Our two top priorities are our children’s safety and education. In order to be successful, we need your support. Be on the lookout today and tomorrow for additional communication with your child(ren).
Neil Wetherbee, Superintendent
MDHHS Issues Three-Week Epidemic Order to Save Lives, Protect Frontline Heroes During Fall COVID-19 Surge
New order limits indoor and outdoor gatherings where COVID-19 is more likely to spread from person to person
LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new emergency order today that enacts a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates. Governor Whitmer, Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, and MDHHS Director Robert Gordon held a press conference this evening to discuss this new order.
To view the graph from Director Gordon’s PowerPoint presentation, click the link below:
November 15, 2020 Update
(posted at 07:45pm)
November 11, 2020 Update
(posted at 02:30pm)
Dear Northport Public School Families,
The letter that I am writing here is one that I hoped to not have to write; however, it is one that has felt almost inevitable. Over the summer when the Northport Public School Board of Education debated whether this school year should be virtual or in-person, if someone had told me we’d successfully complete the full first quarter with three-fourths of the students in-person, I doubt I would have believed them, and I definitely would have welcomed the news. The staff and students at Northport have done an amazing job staying safe. We have had one known positive case in staff or students since the pandemic began. This is a testament to everyone’s tremendous work following our safety protocols. However, the district cannot live in isolation as we all have outside lives. The spread of the virus is creeping closer and frequent orders to quarantine are taking a toll on our student and staff attendance. We are one health department phone call away from being unable to safely and effectively staff our school.
One of the greatest difficulties with this pandemic is battling the unknown. The district has been at the mercy of the virus and state since March. The unknown of being potentially forced to go virtual at a moment’s notice has been one of the greatest stressors for staff and students. We experienced how that played out in the spring. The Northport Public School family rose to the occasion then, but if we had more notice, we could have been more successful with our teaching and learning; and, families could have been more prepared. The graph image below is from a slide at Monday’s board meeting and contains a graph from John Hopkins University. We experienced a large uptick in quarantining after Halloween, and we expect the situation to be much worse after Thanksgiving and the December holidays. The virus is not under control.
For the reasons just out, the board made the difficult decision to amend our Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan. The district will try to remain in our current hybrid form of instruction (some students in-person and some students virtual) through Thanksgiving Break. Starting Monday, November 30, 2020, Northport Public School will revert to a virtual-only setting. The targeted date to return to a hybrid model is Monday, January 18, 2021.
The board and school staff fully understand that virtual learning is generally not as successful as in-person learning. The board and staff also appreciate the burden this places on your families. We know childcare is an issue for many of you. However, we did not choose to be in this pandemic nor can we control what happens outside our school walls. Our number one priority is to keep students and staff safe.
This decision to go virtual must be reconfirmed at each subsequent board meeting. Public comments, in support of this plan or opposed, are welcome. The next board meeting will be on December 14, 2020, at 6:00 pm. The meeting after that is on January 11, 2020, at 6:00 pm.
The board made this decision this week to allow maximum time for staff and families to plan. The final details of the school plan are still being worked out. We will release full details of the plan by next Friday, November 20th. From the completed parts of the plan, I can assure you that the school staff learned valuable lessons from last spring. You should anticipate a much more structured daily plan for your children with several hours of direct teacher instruction and a full school day's worth of learning. The planning last spring was reactionary and tremendously rushed. The planning for this fall will be diligent and organized.
In addition to the plan put in place by the school staff, two other elements are key to our collective success. First, we need to keep our lines of communication open. During this time, over-communicating is far better than under-communicating. If you need something, say something. The second element is family support. The school staff does not expect parents to be teachers. We know that being a teacher was most likely not the career path you chose. We need your help in making sure your child(ren) is awake at the start of the school day. If your child(ren) is absent, we need your help in figuring out why they are not at class. If your child(ren) needs help, we need you to encourage them to ask their teachers. We will only be successful if we work as a team.
Please be patient as we take the next week to ensure we have the highest quality plan possible. Again, we acknowledge the inconvenience of this situation, but we are trying to allow you the maximum amount of time to plan. Please be flexible. Please be a partner in our children's education. Please know that we are all in this together, and we all want what is best for our children. Thank you in advance for your help in navigating these difficult times.
Neil Wetherbee, Superintendent
November 9, 2020 Update
(posted at 07:51pm)
With the rapid rise of COVID-19 across the state and region, the Northport Public School Board of Education unanimously voted to revise the district's Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan. Northport Public School will return to virtual learning following Thanksgiving Break (November 30) with a targeted return to in-person learning exam week (January 18). The board did not come to this decision lightly but felt it was the best option for our community. We are all appreciative of the public comments and high attendance at tonight's meeting. The board knows this puts a burden on families, but this decision allows us to be proactive and allows for planning. More information will be sent home to families in the upcoming days. We thank you in advance for your understanding and patience. Stay safe!
Neil Wetherbee, Superintendent
April 10, 2020 Update
(posted at 03:06pm)
This is communication was intended to be a robocall; however, the robocall system has been down across the country all day, and I cannot wait any longer. Although a robocall is still not personal, I apologize for the even more impersonal nature of this communication.
I hope that you and your family are well and are enjoying your time together. I am reaching out today to provide an update on the 2019-2020 school year. As I discussed in my previous communication, there is significant uncertainty during these times. I do not believe in starting, stopping, and changing plans when at all possible. For this reason, we have waited to roll out our plan to finish the school year until we had more certainty. Yesterday the intermediate school district approved our state-required Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan, which is posted on the school homepage. With that, we now better understand the expectations of us for the remainder of the school year.
When the governor initially closed school for the two weeks before spring break, we intended for that to be a temporary pause in normalcy. For this reason, all of the work sent home was optional and meant to be enrichment. With Executive Order 2020-35 on April 2nd, all school buildings were closed for the remainder of the year. The governor has not ended the school year but closed the buildings. For this reason, we were required to complete the plan mentioned above and to continue with our school year remotely. We know this will be a challenge for us all – students, families, and teachers, but we are determined to make the best of it.
Here are the main points to understand:
- The work being sent home after spring break is not optional.
- Students will not be penalized for not completing work involving the internet if they do not have access to the internet and communicate that issue with the school office and teacher.
- Students will not be penalized if they are unable to complete work because they or their household are infected by the COVID-19 virus.
- All secondary students who were passing Quarter 3 as of March 11 will receive a passing grade for the quarter. If students were not passing or working to bring up their grades, they need to communicate with their teacher, and they have until April 17th to be complete.
- All secondary students will have a Credit/No Credit option for Quarter 4 and Semester 2. The use of Credit/No Credit is not recommended, but it will be made available.
- Promotion to the next grade and passing classes will be made available to all students who demonstrate they are academically prepared.
- Senior projects will continue in a modified form, which will be communicated to the seniors shortly.
- Students and families should expect remote schooling to start on April 13th and end on June 11th. Be on the lookout for communication from the school staff.
- Personal items left at school that are essential for learning can be picked up after coordinating with the main office at(231) 386-5153. Non-essentials items will be left untouched until the Stay home Stay safe order allows us to perform non-essential tasks.
- If in doubt, communicate, communicate, communicate. We are all in this together.
Stay home. Stay safe. And, do some learning.
Superintendent, Northport Public School
April 2, 2020 Update
(posted at 11:38am)
The news that we knew was coming officially came this morning. School, as we know it, has been canceled for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
In this period where positive news has been few and far between, there are a couple of positives pertaining to Northport Public School. The results from the survey we sent out last week show an exceptionally unified set of parent concerns and needs. Having such similar responses makes providing a plan much easier. Additionally, the teachers and administrators met for a virtual staff meeting this week, and everyone in the meeting was on the same page and ready to do what is best for our children.
I have a virtual meeting with the other regional superintendents later today to look at the required Continuity of Learning Plan. I'll be working through the weekend, with the support of our teachers and administrators, to ensure we have a plan that addresses as many needs as possible.
Although education is extremely important, please do not let the school be something that adds stress to your life. Do the best you can but take care of your most pressing needs first. Seniors will graduate. The SAT will happen at some point. We haven't forgotten about senior project. As you wait for our formal plan, here is a resource being provided by our Intermediate School District, TBAISD: https://sites.google.com/tbaisd.org/remotelearningtoolkit/home.
I will be in touch soon after our plan is developed. Stay safe and try to enjoy these moments.
Superintendent, Northport Public School
Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Suspending Face-to-Face Learning at K-12 Schools for Remainder of School Year
Executive Order sets guidelines for remote learning, ensures teachers, school employees will be paid for remainder of school year
LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-35, which orders all K-12 school buildings to close for the remainder of the school year — unless restrictions are lifted — and ensures continuing of learning by setting guidelines for remote learning. District facilities may be used by public school employees and contractors for the purposes of facilitating learning at a distance while also practicing social distancing.
March 25, 2020 Update
(posted at 12:51pm)
I hope that you are well. It is an understatement to say that these are times unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. Some aspects of this situation are changing quickly while others have remained the same for weeks. I feel like I am at information overload, and I have not wanted to contribute to your feelings of being overwhelmed.
However, I know that not knowing is also stressful. Although in most circumstances, I have or can find the answers to school-related questions, at this point even with countless hours in meetings, I have as many questions as you do. What school looks like for the rest of this school year depends on variables outside of my control. We do not know what the virus will do. We do not know what other executive orders are coming. We do not know what laws the Michigan Legislature will create or amend. We do not know what the Michigan Department of Education is going to require or expect. We do not know what the United States Department of Education is going to change. These unknowns, and more, prevent me from telling you what is going to happen with school.
At this moment, I see three possible scenarios – each of which are equally likely. One option is that relatively traditional school opens back up on April 14th. A second option is that we are forced online for the remainder of the school year. A third option is that the rest of the school year is canceled. For many of us, option two of moving the school to virtual causes the most panic. As a school and a community, we will do what is asked of us. In order to gather information for the possibility of going virtual, there is a survey on the northportps.org homepage or can be accessed directly at https://forms.gle/BZwDRiMWgLUGuG7T6. The survey should take you less than three minutes, but it will give us very useful information.
Whether you are scared of the virus, worried about not receiving a paycheck, stressed about your children being at home, or concerned about your children’s lost educational experiences, please remember this will all pass. We will get through this as a community, and we will come out stronger. Stay safe, focus on the positives, embrace this time with your children, breathe, and we’ll see you soon – one way or another.
Superintendent, Northport Public School
March 12, 2020 Update
(posted at 07:59am)
As of about 11:00 PM tonight, 3/12/2020, Governor Whitmer closed all schools starting Monday. We anticipate reopening school after our scheduled spring break. I know this is not convenient, but all of this is now beyond our control. Northport Public School WILL be open and in session tomorrow, Friday, March 13. This will provide families three days to figure out childcare and for students to collect books and belongings. I am in regular communication with the other regional superintendents and the health department. I will keep you informed throughout this process as anything new develops.
Superintendent, Northport Public School
Governor Whitmer Announces Statewide Closure of All K-12 School Buildings
School building closures will last Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5
LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that in order to slow the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan, she is ordering the closure of all K-12 school buildings, public, private, and boarding, to students starting Monday, March 16 until Sunday, April 5. School buildings are scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 6.
As of tonight, the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan is 12.
“This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families, and our overall public health,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents, and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food. I know this will be a tough time, but we’re doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge everyone to make smart choices during this time and to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families.”
“Closing our K-12 school buildings is the responsible choice that will minimize the risk of exposure for children, educators, and families and mitigate the spread of coronavirus,” said Michigan State Superintendent Michael Rice. “The Department of Education will continue to work closely with our partners in state government to help our students and educators in each school district get through this time. This is about protecting the most people in Michigan.”
Governors across the country, including Mike DeWine (R-OH), Andy Beshear (D-KY), and Larry Hogan (R-MD), have taken similar steps to close schools and ensure the protection of children and families in their states.
“Closing our school buildings is the smart thing and the right thing to do for the public’s health,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “These actions will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. I will continue to work with Governor Whitmer and our four COVID-19 task forces to ensure we protect our children, our families, and our communities.”
Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
Shortness of breath
The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
Avoid contact with people who are sick.
If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
February 27, 2020 Update
Dear school families,
Following the heightened concerns over the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Northport Public School and the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District are working closely with the Grand Traverse County Health Department to communicate and help the community proactively combat the spread of respiratory infections.
At this time there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in the state of Michigan. Grand Traverse County and surrounding county health departments are following guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which is continuously updating information and resources that will minimize the risks of infection from influenza type viruses.
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to a virus. Precautions that can help us avoid contagious viruses are generally good habits to follow. Those include:
- Frequent hand washing, for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with those who are ill.
- Stay home from work/school yourself when ill and contact your family physician for guidance.
As a matter of standard practice, our custodial staff wipe down surfaces such as cafeteria tables, clean classrooms each day, and disinfect bathrooms, clean floors and keep common areas sanitized. The upcoming school vacation for spring break provides a reprieve in the spread of germs common in the school environment and allows our custodial staff to proceed with routine deep clearing and disinfecting of school facilities.
As we approach spring break, the CDC recommends those who plan to travel outside of the United States to check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel.
While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help minimize the spread of respiratory illnesses. For additional guidance, check the CDC website for all available resources and information on COVID-19.
We will continue to keep you informed as this situation develops. Any emergency developments will be shared immediately through all of our communication channels: email, phone, text, website, and social media.
Again, there are no confirmed cases in the Traverse Bay region or Michigan, but we wish to express our appreciation to county health department officials for their partnership in guiding our school families as we work to keep our community healthy.
Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District
Northport Public School
Open daily from 8-5