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By Carol Stiffler

Perhaps it was only a matter of time.

After a relatively mild first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, it has infiltrated the region with enough success to shut down entire school districts, cancel individual sports games, and one day of school at Tahquamenon Area Schools.

And then, after an initial report late Friday of one COVID case at Three Lakes Academy, three more were quickly discovered. School on Monday had been canceled for a deep cleaning of the Curtis school. By the end of the day, word came that the school building at Three Lakes will stay closed for at least two weeks, and students will learn from home until at least October 19.

Due to privacy laws, the names of those diagnosed have not been released.

“LMAS Health Department is performing contact tracing and will identify all close contacts (less  than 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) to these individuals,” said a statement from the school. “If you are not contacted, your child is not a close contact of these individuals and therefore your child is not required to quarantine.”

Parents expressed frustration on social media at not knowing if their children had been exposed at school.

The COVID outbreak at local schools came simultaneously with an announcement from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who reverted the Upper Peninsula to Phase 4 as a result of the region’s recent spike in positive cases.

Whitmer acknowledged that the Upper Peninsula has a lower percentage of people wearing masks and urged Yoopers to wear face coverings to limit the spread of the disease.

She released a video on Monday, pleading with the state to follow health department guidelines she has been citing for months.

“The CDC and public health experts agree that wearing masks and practicing safe physical distancing are crucial to slow the spread of the virus, protect our frontline workers, and keep our schools and small businesses open,” said Whitmer. “Michiganders, here’s what we need you to do: please take this virus seriously by wearing a mask when you go out, washing hands, and maintaining six feet of physical distance. Get a flu shot. Taking this action is essential to keeping our small businesses and schools open. COVID 19 didn’t stop being a threat because the court ruling, or because we’ve tired of it, or because the legislature left town.

“Let us not squander the sacrifice we have made to get to this point.”