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Education is a big issue in northern Michigan, whether we're reporting on school funding issues to breakthroughs in the classroom.

Traverse City Central High School moves online while health department contact traces

Morgan Springer


Update 10/22/30: TCAPS says TC Central High School  will return to in-class learning on Friday. The district says the health department completed its contact tracing efforts.

Traverse City Area Public Schools has closed TC Central High School for two days after positive COVID-19 test results from someone at the school were reported Tuesday. Depending on how many were exposed, or how long the health department needs to contact trace, the school may have to continue virtual instruction for longer, possibly for 14 days, TCAPS Superintendent John VanWagoner says.

The school is the latest of several across the region to move classes online while dealing with coronavirus cases. 

School officials say the temporary interruptions will likely continue as staff shortages, and large numbers of students in quarantine, disrupt school.

Why close schools

By and large, there have only been a few positive cases at northwest lower Michigan schools. As of Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported no outbreaks — defined as two or more cases — in the region.

Still, even if there is only one case at the school, the district may decide it’s best to close. It depends on what the local health department suggests and how many people were exposed.

As is the case with Central High School, the health department may ask a school to close if there’s a significant number of people to identify and contact. On Monday, Manistee Middle High School closed for a day while the health department investigated a positive case from a student at the school.

While some schools have been able to maintain in person school while quarantining some students — such as how Petoskey High School managed a positive case last month — smaller schools have decided to close for the quarantine because of the number exposed, as was the case at Kennedy Elementary in Manistee and The Children’s House in Charlevoix. 

Some schools have been forced to close for short periods when too many teachers or bus drivers were quarantined and subs couldn’t be found.


Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.