MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — As cases climb, health experts are bracing for what could happen after students and families return home from spring break.
Students in Muskegon return to class Monday. Muskegon Area ISD is taking a proactive step by offering free testing this on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Muskegon Community College.
The testing site is through a collaboration between the ISD, Muskegon Community College, the state health department, Public Health-Muskegon County and local school districts.
The testing won’t be handled like a vaccination clinic. There is no set number of tests available and officials say they’re ready for everyone.
There may be a bit of a wait, but regardless of weather, you can be tested right from your car for free.
“This is a fluid situation. It’s ongoing all the time,” Muskegon Area ISD Superintendent John Severson said. “I think this is a great — at least check in (at) a point in time to see how we’re doing, and it’s free.”
Free antigen and PCR COVID-19 tests will be available to anyone open to being tested. An entire family could be tested from their vehicle if they so desire.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Severson said. “Maybe you did travel and you just want to know if you’re safe. We want to keep schools open, so any way that you can help us, we ask that you please do.”
Severson says the timing of the testing effort isn’t directly related to the end of spring break.
“There have been increases in the state, we know that, right? So, it’s not like COVID took a vacation — it’s still around us,” Severson said. “We know this is just really good timing. We’re coming into the homestretch too of finishing school, vaccines are rolling out — just the perfect timing to do a check-in and see how folks are doing.”
Severson believes the massive testing effort at MCC, could be of great help to schools and the community at large all the same.
“If you don’t feel well or you have a question or you just want to get tested. And this is for anybody in the community, any age. Please come out and we would love to have you and we feel very fortunate to have this opportunity for our community,” Severson said. “What I am really happy about is that this is for the whole community, not just for schools. And we know that COVID-19 has impacted a lot of people, a lot of families and businesses and such, and this is a great way just to see where we’re at.”
It’s unclear if results from the tests could lead to more area schools returning to virtual learning. Severson hopes that’s not the case. He says at this point, all schools in the ISD will be returning to in-person learning come Monday.
“Let me be clear: The schools want to be face to face, but we want to be safe. It’s always been the case that we know the best instruction is face to face and we’re coming to the end of this pandemic,” Severson said. “In many cases, schools sometimes can be safer than parts of our community, and I really believe people have been doing an amazing job for us to be in session as long as we have.”
But of course, as we’ve seen with schools returning to virtual learning when outbreaks occur, it all depends.
“What I could tell you today could change tomorrow, but we work hand in hand with our health department in everything that we do. We look at the metrics, we look at the data, we look at the science to make those difficult choices when we have to go virtual,” Severson said. “Student and staff safety is our number one priority. It’s our number one priority and this is part of it.”
Severson says the testing effort isn’t open only to Muskegon County residents. Anyone and everyone is welcome. They simply ask you to pre-register.
“I think they’re ready to go. I think they can handle a large number and I have not heard anything of where they would be turning anyone away,” Severson said. “We’re going to get through this and we’re going to get through it together.”
For more information, be sure to check out the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District website.