WEST MICHIGAN — Forty-six superintendents signed a letter today asking that "all social and community gatherings continue to adhere to safe mitigation protocols" for COVID-19 to help schools stay open.
The letter is addressed to the "West Michigan school community" and from superintendents across Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties.
They issued the letter after they say public health officials are reporting "significant increases in positive cases across our state and region in recent weeks."
"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," they say.
"If cases continue to trend upwards, county health departments warn schools may be forced to implement additional restrictions to prevent continued infections."
The superintendents say the restrictions could include the 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 instructional model either periodically or for an extended period of time until cases decline," they say.
They added that, "We must do everything we can to keep schools safe and open. ... We’ve worked too hard over the last several months to reverse course now."
Fox 17 spoke with Godfrey-Lee Superintendent Kevin Polston Tuesday, who added, "We've gotten too comfortable and we know the safest place for students to be is at school, for all the services schools provide. It's more of a joint communication to our communities that the social gatherings and also any related to school events such as team dinners or sleepovers, those type of activities that we all want to get back to. We really need to be mindful that those are spreading events that will impact school."