Dear Parents & Guardians,
We hope you have had a good weekend and great Thanksgiving with friends and family. We have just three weeks before our pending Winter Break!
In an effort to avoid further closures and cancelations of school, sports and upcoming special events, we are requesting and encouraging students at PCS to wear a mask during this time of high virus transmission. Currently both MDHHS and ACHD are strongly recommending mask wearing in school settings. One of the mitigation strategies endorsed by ACHD to be implemented prior to closing again will be the implementation of masking at school for all staff, students, and visitors. If our numbers were to approach 20% total absences, we would utilize this strategy prior to closing or going remote. We would also like to remind you that students who choose to mask have a decreased likelihood of having to quarantine if exposed to a positive case. Below you will see the latest update from Allegan County Health Department.
We recognize that this is a difficult choice for some families, students and staff but we thank you for the efforts made by everyone to limit the spread of COVID-19. Finally, we ask that you keep your student home if you believe they have been exposed or if they are experiencing signs and symptoms of illness. Thank you again for your support and help.
Plainwell Community Schools
Allegan County Health Department Advises Strong Mitigation Practices as Levels of Community Transmission are the Highest since start of Pandemic
(Allegan, MI)— The Allegan County Health Department (ACHD) strongly recommends practicing multiple mitigation measures as COVID-19 transmission levels rise to the highest experienced in Allegan County.
The high level of community transmission places an additional stress on schools and hospitals. Public health capacity is also impacted. ACHD case investigation and contact tracing services are top priority for school aged children and other vulnerable residents. ACHD asks individuals that test positive or have COVID-like symptoms to reach out to their close contacts (a person exposed to someone with COVID-19 less than 6 feet apart for 15 minutes or more) and advise them. Individuals can notify close contacts using the MI COVID Alert App.
Allegan County specific data is included at the end of this release as well as education on important mitigation strategies.
“We need community members to work together to bring the level of community transmission down before the educational institutions and businesses are impacted further,” Allegan County Medical Director, Dr. Richard Tooker states. He further explains, “Without quick and intentional action from the community, people can expect a decrease in the capacity for local hospitals to provide COVID-19 interventions, other emergency services, and routine care for other health concerns. We may see more schools and businesses close due to widespread illness and staff shortages”
“This pandemic for different reasons has put a tremendous amount of stress on all of us,” states Allegan County Health Officer, Angelique Joynes, MPH, RN. “I believe we all want to ensure our family and loved ones stay healthy; we should assess risk of gathering during this time of thanks and consider actions such as testing, wearing a mask, and other mitigation strategies to reduce risk of exposure to those we care about.”
· 7-day average case rate for Allegan County is 818.93 per 100,000 (11/14/21 to 11/20/21)
· 7-day average test positivity rate of 21.56% (11/12/21 to 11/18/21).
· Last week (11/14/21-11/20/21), 187 positive pediatric (0-18) cases were reported in Allegan County, with 14 pediatric hospitalizations at Region 5 and 6 health systems.
· 80.5% and 82.6% of hospital beds are occupied, with 24.2% and 25.8% of these being COVID-19 patients (Region 5 and Region 6, respectively).
· 56% of Allegan County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine which is not enough to stem the transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant.
· In Allegan County, an estimated 79.1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals.
Important Mitigation Strategies:
ACHD reminds community members that everyone has a part to help reduce the level of COVID-19 transmission in our community.
- Vaccinate. If you are unvaccinated, speak with your trusted healthcare provider about the benefits of vaccination. The vaccine is free, safe, and effective, and is available from providers throughout the County. Vaccines are now available for anyone 5 years and older. Boosters are available to anyone 18 years and older, and at least 6 months after their initial doses of Pfizer or Moderna. For those that received J&J, they are eligible at least 2 months after their last dose.
- Wear your mask. On November 19, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a Public Health Advisory on the use of face masks. With current COVID-19 transmission levels so high, ACHD is urging all individuals to wear a mask indoors, at work, school and anywhere in public when gathered around other people, even if they are vaccinated. Masks provide an additional layer of protection from spreading and contracting the viruses that cause COVID-19 and influenza. This is especially important for individuals who may be infected without symptoms (asymptomatic), or infected but not yet having symptoms (presymptomatic), and who may be unaware of their infectiousness to others.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even minor symptoms, or if you think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, stay home.
- Get Tested. With the holidays coming up, ACHD recommends getting tested before any planned gatherings to help prevent further transmission. There are testing sites throughout Allegan County this week and next.
- Fill out a self-reported form if you test positive for COVID-19. Since public health does not have capacity to complete all case investigations for COVID-19, ACHD prioritizes school age COVID-19 cases and other vulnerable cases for investigations. To help with the timely reporting of cases, ACHD asks community members that test positive to complete the self-reporting information found on the ACHD COVID-19 website.
- Notify your close contacts if you test positive for COVID-19. If you are a close contact, follow the recommended quarantine guidance. ACHD allows a shortened quarantine period after day 10 without testing OR after day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 7).