BRIDGMAN — The Bridgman Public Schools has enacted a mask mandate, which Superintendent Shane Peters said became effective Monday, Nov. 15.

An email was sent to parents Sunday afternoon, Nov. 14, informing them of the change. The move was taken after the district had to close a building and transition a grade level to virtual learning, because of the high percentage of students in quarantine.

Bridgman Elementary School had to suspend in-person learning Nov. 10-12 because of COVID-19 quarantines and resumed in-person class on Monday. Additionally, the fifth-grade class at F.C. Reed Middle School had to switch to remote learning from Nov. 15-19 to mitigate the spread of COVID.

“This policy was put in place this morning to prevent our kids from being in quarantine, especially healthy kids,” Peters said.

In Berrien County, schools with universal masking do not have to quarantine close contacts, regardless of vaccination status, so long as they are asymptomatic.

As of Nov. 12, 124 students were in quarantine, about 12 percent of the district’s student population, Peters said. Not all of those are school-based quarantines, he said.

“We could not have sustained what we did last week for another week,” Peters said.

The district administration implemented the policy with the support of its board of education, the superintendent said.

Teaching half of the students virtually and the other half in person was difficult for teachers. Additionally, parents struggled to balance coordinating care for their quarantined kids and their jobs, Peters said – particularly parents of young children.

“If we are educators, we have to believe that the best place to learn is in class,” he said.

Peters said he hopes the masking policy will end by the time the district returns from Christmas break, which means the policy will be in effect for 21 school days.

“We have to use everything we can in our power to keep kids in school,” Peters said.

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