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Ann Arbor Public Schools announced a modified return to school from winter break Friday night in an email to parents and staff members. The modifications include a delayed start to school, with classes starting on Jan. 5 instead of the original Jan. 3. Additionally, classes will take place online from Jan. 5-7. Superintendent Jeanice Swift said the changes are a response to the increase of COVID-19 cases in Washtenaw County and around the country

AAPS confirmed the current COVID-19 protocols will remain in place, and the district will adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent changes in isolation and quarantine recommendations. In addition, Swift said that prioritizing vaccinations and boosters for everyone who is eligible will be vital to a safe return to school. 

“Among all we can do, we know vaccination continues to provide the best protection against getting COVID-19, spreading it and experiencing severe symptoms or hospitalization,” Swift said in the email. AAPS has partnered with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to offer vaccines to all students who are eligible, Swift said.

The email also said AAPS contact tracing, which tracks COVID-19 cases in classrooms and buildings and works to notify students and parents of exposures, will resume Jan. 4.

Earlier in the day, Detroit Public Schools announced a modified return to school as well. In addition to Michigan school districts altering plans after winter break, Michigan State University announced that the first three weeks of classes would be virtual following COVID-19 concerns.

The University of Michigan announced plans to move forward with a return to in-person classes starting Jan. 5 with increased safety measures in place. 

Swift said that the alterations to the AAPS schedule are to prioritize the safety of students, parents and faculty.

“Adjusting the return to the in-school learning timeline will provide an opportunity to take critical steps to ensure we interrupt the post-winter-break surge and return to in-school learning as safely as possible.” Swift said in the email. “We appreciate the unified purpose and hard work of everyone in support of our students and staff; we know we are stronger when we work together.”

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