Five COVID-19 cases close Novi High School until Monday

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Five cases of COVID-19 among its high school student population forced the Novi Community Schools district to close the school to in-person learning this week.

Superintendent Steve Matthews said the five students are in quarantine and the high school was closed Thursday and remained closed on Friday to students. Students were switched to the district's online learning program for those days.

"We reported them to the Oakland County Health Division. They started their investigation and contact tracing. They are concluding that today," Matthews said.

On Friday, Matthews said county health officials cleared the school to reopen to students starting Monday.

"Novi High School will operate as normal starting Monday, September 21. Monday hybrid students should be ready for school. K-8 students will continue their daily schedule as normal," Matthews said in a message to parents sent on Friday.

Students leave Novi High School on Sept. 8, 2020.

The five students each had six classes and the potential to impact approximately 450 students, he said.

"We provided seating charts so they could identify who was seated next to the positive cases and follow up with them. We continued with our cleaning protocols," Matthews said.

He said the students were not at school when they had symptoms but "we know that it is possible to be contagious before you show symptoms."

Parents were sent a letter on Thursday about the cases. Students who may have been in close contact with a student who has tested positive will be contacted by the Oakland County Health Division.

Matthews said in the letter that, while some parents may be tempted to switch from hybrid to virtual learning because of the cases, he will not be approving those requests.

"We have safe schools. Our protocols are sound. As mentioned, the exposure risk we are seeing is not occurring within our buildings, but in activities happening outside of school," Matthews said.

On Monday, state health officials released a list of K-12 schools in Michigan with COVID-19 outbreaks. 

The 11 schools include five outbreaks considered by the state's health department as new and six deemed ongoing, and the positive case counts were as small as two and as large as six.