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As kids return to the classroom, AAP reports over 200,000 new cases of COVID in first week alone

Students wear masks at a school in Baghdad.
Students wear masks at a school in Baghdad.

The question remains: where is it happening

With the majority of most public and private schools now back in session, the number of children testing positive for COVID-19 is surging across the country with over 200,000 new cases last week according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And for the week ending, children accounted for over 22 percent of newly reported cases. 

How that is playing out in West Michigan is unclear so far, and the numbers should become more transparent by weeks end--however the big question will be where the numbers are rising, as the majority of public-school districts in West Michigan are requiring masks while inside buildings, specifically in K-6 grades, while a number of private and Christian schools are not mandating face coverings--leaving that decision to parents. 

That debate has become a hot button issue not only across West Michigan but the entire country--should it be up to the parents, school officials or public health officers to decide if kids should be in masks? 

In late July over a thousand angry parents attended the Kent County Commissioners meeting to voice their opposition over the mask mandate, many threatening to pull their kids out of public schools if the decision wasn’t reversed. 

For Grand Rapids Public Schools, Communications Director John Helmholdt says, that hasn’t happened. 

“Our numbers look really good right now, we are on pace to meet or beat projections,” Helmholdt said.

In other areas of West Michigan, it may be a different story, as some Christian Schools who are not requiring masks have seen a substantial spike in new students. At the relatively small Calvary Christian in Fruitport for instance, school officials report that they have 43 new students this fall, a rise of around 22 percent from last year. 

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