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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Thursday, April 2 updates

Governor Whitmer signs executive order suspending face-to-face learning at K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year, and more statements from local organizations issued April 2, 2020.
River House View at dusk.

River House View at dusk. /John Eisenschenk

The number of COVID-19 cases in Kent County and across the state continues to increase

As of 10am today, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kent County has risen to 125, up six from yesterday's 119. The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the county remains at two. Statewide, there has been an increase of 1457 cases to a grand total of 10,791, with 417 total deaths. The State of Michigan updates county-by-county COVID-19 data on their website every day at 3pm.


Whitmer closes Michigan K-12 schools closed for the remainder of school year

By executive order, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has suspended face-to-face learning at Michigan's K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year. Whitmer's order outlines guidelines for remote learning in the State of Michigan and ensures that staff and educators will be paid for the remainder of the term. 

"For the sake of our students, their families, and the more than 100,000 teachers and staff in our state, I have made the difficult decision to close our school facilities for the remainder of the school year," said Governor Whitmer in a statement on Twitter

The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers have worked together to create an application template for localized "Continuity of Learning" plans that each school district can use to plan their process moving forward. Each district's solution will be different and designed to reflect what is feasible for the communities they work in without leaving any students behind. 

The order provides local districts with options for changing their calendar for the upcoming school year, allowing each district to either adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019/2020 school year or begin the 2020/2021 school year early. 

Additionally, the Governor’s order gives all high school seniors set to graduate this year the opportunity to do so, while also cancelling previously scheduled standardized testing (SAT, M-STEP, etc.) for the remainder of the term. Make up sessions for these exams will be scheduled for the fall.

Further reading:


Kids’ Food Basket continues food distribution to students in need

In the past three weeks, Kids’ Food Basket (KFB) has distributed over 85,000 emergency food bags at over 70 community distribution sites located in densely populated areas serving low-income families. They will continue their emergency food provision strategy in Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Allegan counties, as long as it is safe and responsible to do so.

“For 18 years, this community has counted on Kids’ Food Basket to show up when our kids and families needed us most. Now, because West Michigan children no longer have the safety net of school and school meals, we are needed more than ever,” said Bridget Clark Whitney, president and founding CEO.

“From day one of the school closures, Kids’ Food Basket has been on the front line,” Clark Whitney continued. “This is who we are. This is what we do. Together as a community we will get through this critical time and support those who need help the most.”

In this time of uncertainty, Kids’ Food Basket says they’re not currently taking volunteers, however, they’ve provided information about their programs and community involvement opportunities on their website.


Opera Grand Rapids launches online performance series

Unable to host public events and hot on the heels of a successful online production of Scalia/Ginsburg, Opera Grand Rapids has again turned to the internet to expand its programming. This week, the company launches Singing in Place, a four-part web series featuring emerging opera performers giving short, intimate recitals from their home. The first, available now on YouTube, features soprano and Opera Grand Rapids board member Madelaine Lane. Information about Lane and the series can be found on the Singing in Place section of the Opera Grand Rapids website.


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