County school superintendents concerned over increased COVID-19 cases

St. Joseph County school superintendents and Intermediate School District officials have expressed concern about the rising COVID-19 cases locally and what that could mean for area schools in coming weeks.

In St. Joseph County, Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency said Tuesday the number of cumulative cases has surpassed the 1,000 mark and the number of deaths has risen this week by two, to 17, since statistics were first recorded in March.

St. Joseph County leads the number of cases in the tri-county area, and is second for the number of deaths.

The county superintendents published a letter Monday addressing concerns about COVID-19 and its impact on their work. Health officials cite that the rise in cases is largely due to a lack of safe practices – mainly distancing and mask wearing – in social settings and community gatherings outside the school community, the superintendents said.

If cases continue to trend upward, potential restrictions may include cancellation of extracurricular activities such as athletics, band, choir and drama. As a worst-case scenario, schools may be asked to shift to a distance-learning either periodically or for an extended period until cases decline.

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