SHEPHERD, Mich. (WJRT) - The Central Michigan District Health Department is investigating after more than a dozen cases of strep throat were reported within Shepherd Public Schools despite COVID-19 protocols.
Shepherd Superintendent, Greg McMillan, said the cases are mainly in the elementary school in Shepherd. Both students and staff have strep throat he said.
Dr. Jennifer Morse, the medical director at the health department, said that they are investigating how this happened.
“We are definitely concerned because again this is just a bit strange,” she said.
Morse said that it is unusual to see so many cases of strep throat when the school district has taken so many actions to stop the spread of COVID-19. She said that strep throat spreads in a similar way that COVID-19 does.
The school district made the decision to cancel class for Friday after learning of the uptick in strep cases. McMillan said it was an easy call to make after talking to the health department.
“It just got to the point, we had to make a decision," he said. "It wasn’t getting better, it was actually getting worse.”
McMillan said they are not sure how strep throat is going around. He said the schools have been taking a ton of precautions for COVID-19 but he points out that not washing masks enough could be helping to spread the bacteria and that putting masks on different surfaces could spread it, too.
On Friday, the district deep cleaned all of its schools and buses.
“This is such a highly contagious disease," McMillan said. "We just felt that if we don’t get a handle on it now it’s going to get so out of control we are gonna have to shut school anyways because we are not going to have 75 percent of our kids here.”
McMillian said he’s grateful for all the steps the community has taken so far and he reminds families to be extra vigilant this time of year not just for COVID-19 but also other illnesses.
Morse said that the health department will be monitoring trends at the school to see what could happen next.
“If it does not stop, with these you know having a weekend and taking extra precautions we will be looking into it further to see if there’s any other potential explanations,” she said.
Morse reminds parents to keep their kids at home if they feel sick and stick to all of the COVID-19 related precautions that are in place.
Shepherd schools are expected to reopen on Monday.
Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.