The Pickford School Board has drafted a letter in response to the circumstances surrounding this article:
“Pickford Public School administration became aware of three positive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Administrators immediately communicated directly with the Chippewa County Health Department and began the process of contact tracing, following health department protocol and the Districts return to school plan approved by the State of Michigan. The end result of contact tracing is to identify “close contact” persons. The health department reviews the “contacts” for a decision on self-quarantine.
Each case of reported COVID-19 brings with it a particular set of circumstances, all requiring investigation as part of the contact tracing process. Individual private health information is involved, leading to an inability to fully disclose known nuances to other than “need to know” parties. Differences in case circumstances and regulatory restrictions on disclosure, present the opportunity for misunderstanding and propagation of subsequent misinformation.
In the three November 2020 cases, differing circumstances were involved, leading to decisions to impose self-quarantine on a portion of the student body as a precautionary measure until the contact tracing could be completed while other students were identified for self-quarantine through routine procedures of proximity measurement and duration of exposure, all of which complies with local and state protocols.
After careful and deliberate review of options presented by the health department for addressing the “precautionary self-quarantined student group”, a decision was made by the Administration and Board President to proceed with identifying possible and probable close contacts through the use of visual resources available to the District. Three knowledgeable persons spent hours reviewing data sources, looking for possible contact, probable contact and contact with the intent to quantify the need for self-quarantine, utilizing the criteria of “proximity, duration, contact” in compliance with accepted protocol. The Board of Education utilized that criteria and the resultant conclusions provided by the health department to District Administration in its decision making at the November 12 Emergency Meeting of the Board of Education.
Subsequently, after further discussion with the Michigan High School Athletic Administration and Chippewa County Health Department, it has been acknowledged that due to the inability to 100% document every possible nuance of exposure or absence thereof, the MHSAA has required the forfeiture of the Regional Final game.
The Administration, Board of Education, Panther family of students, parents and supporters are confident the “Panther Pride & Spirit” found within our District and Community will take us to higher achievement and greater successes as we learn from difficulties encountered along the way and strive to overcome them.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association has forced an Upper Peninsula varsity football team to forfeit tonight’s game.
That’s after Pickford Public Schools held an emergency meeting Thursday evening to release players from quarantine, so they could play in the Friday night game that was scheduled against Indian Lakes Schools.
Pickford Public Schools is in Chippewa County, which is experiencing a big outbreak of COVID-19.
The Pickford Panthers were State Champions last year in the 8 player 2nd division. This year they were in Division one.
The forfeit means the Panthers will not move on to the next game in the playoffs, and their varsity football season is over.
Indian Lakes Superintendent Brad Jacobs says the decision by the MHSAA is a relief. He says it’s not the way they would prefer to move on in the playoffs, but player safety has to come first.
Bay Mills Indian Community Chairman Bryan Newland tweeted earlier in the day:
I’m loathe to do this, but a local school in my area held an emergency school board mtg to allow kids who should be in quarantine (per local health dept) to play in playoff football game. @MHSAA needs to do something. This is reckless.— Bryan Newland (@RealBNewland) November 13, 2020
(There’s more) pic.twitter.com/0tqoxIb1gM
Newland said the district wanted to defend its football title in the playoffs, no matter the cost to public health.
Many in the community were upset. Not about the COVID. About the game being canceled.— Bryan Newland (@RealBNewland) November 13, 2020
The School’s athletic program scrambled to set up testing for players at our tribal health facility the next morning (in an effort to allow the game to proceed).
A MHSAA spokesman said Pickford Public Schools was trying to do the right thing and find enough healthy players for the game, but the county public health department has the final call.