COVID-19

BICS high schoolers to head home on Wednesday as governor shutters in-person dining, high school classes & sports, college classes and more

Fasten your seat belts (or bar the door) for lockdown round two.  Acting through her Health Department director, Governor Whitmer this evening imposed a raft of new restrictions on the state in response to the growing number of positive COVID-19 test results and concerns about hospital capacity.  While the new order isn’t nearly as restrictive as the initial round of lockdown orders, it will shutter a lot of activities effective on Wednesday.  Starting then dine-in will be out of business—and other newly restricted activities shut down until at least December 8.  The order bans in-person classes for high school students (a bit of an odd dichotomy on Beaver Island and Mackinaw island where all students meet in one building) as well as at colleges,  and high school sports are suspended. “We are in the worst moment of this pandemic to date,” Whitmer said at the press conference. “The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice and we need to take some action. As the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors, this virus will spread. More people will get sick and there will be more fatalities.”

Here on the island, BICS principal and superintendent Wil Cwikiel wants to be sure all students are in class on Monday and Tuesday so high school students can get ready for a shift to learning at home.  In a letter to parents, he said, “I know this is disappointing for our high school students (I have already received several text messages), but hopefully we will be able to return to in-person learning at the high school level to school in three weeks.”  The school intends to continue in-person classes for pre-school through 8th grade for now.  The School Board’s Return to School Committee will meet on Wednesday to review next steps.

The new restrictions also shutter theaters, stadiums, arcades, bowling centers, ice rinks, indoor water parks and group fitness classes (although individual gym time is allowed). There’s no change to the indoor gathering limit of 10 people, but now no more than two households can meet in one place.  Outdoor gatherings are now capped at 25 people. It appears that college and professional sports may continue without spectators subject to compliance with safety procedures. Also allowed to remain open (subject to occupancy limits, masking requirements and data collection for contact tracing) are retail businesses, salons, barber shops, public transit, child-care centers, parks and health-care facilities are still open.

The Department of Health and Human Services published this graphic that summarizes the new rules:

The “infographic” doesn’t appear to fully align with the text of the order on sporting events, creating some confusion especially about college sports. The full text of the order is available on the WVBI COVID-19 Info page along with the text of the guidance on social gatherings and safe social pods mentioned in the order and infographic.

Tune in to WVBI tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. and again at noon, 3:00 and 6:00 for updates on the impact these new restrictions will have on the island.