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Pennfield High School moves to online learning after COVID-19 outbreak

Pennfield high school is pictured in this file photo. (WWMT/file){p}{/p}
Pennfield high school is pictured in this file photo. (WWMT/file)

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Pennfield High School in Battle Creek switched to distance learning Thursday due to COVID-19 cases and quarantine.

Since September, Pennfield High School has reported 46 positive COVID-19 cases and about 200 students in quarantine, according to the Calhoun County Public Health Department.

"In some cases, it spreads so fast and overwhelms the school so quickly, the only choice they have is to try to break the cycle and go on a pause," Calhoun County Health Officer Eric Pessell said.

The high school is the second school in Calhoun County to send all students home to learn virtually in 2021.

Some parents said they were not notified that their child was exposed to COVID-19 until a week later.

"The sooner we know the more we can protect kids from getting coronavirus. Certainly waiting a week seems outrageous to me," Beki Hodgman, a parent, said.

School officials said normally contact tracing and notifying parents happens within 24 hours.

Pessell said how quickly parents are notified depends on when someone gets tested and when they get their results.

"If we don’t get a result back for six days, then we can't contact and notify people for probably seven days because it's going to take a day to do contact tracing," said Pessell.

He said health officials review video from school cafeterias, classroom seating charts and talk to teachers to contact trace and determine who to notify.

Pessell said that people should get tested right away if they feel any symptoms.

Hodgman said it’s not that easy.

She had to drive about 50 minutes to find an at-home COVID test with rapid results when her daughter was exposed.

"They’re really hard to find right now, I found one in Paw Paw, so I drove out there," said Hodgman.

Pennfield students are expected to return Oct. 18 to in-person classes.

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