NEWS RELEASE: What happens when there's a positive COVID-19 case in an Ottawa County school?

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Media Contacts:
Kristina Wieghmink, OCDPH Public Information Officer  I  mobile/text 616-510-8523

Michelle Ready, OAISD Director of Communications and Marketing  I  616-738-8940 x4093

August 20, 2020  |  Ottawa County

school cases

Positive COVID-19 cases in schools are inevitable but how do we minimize risks?
The health and safety of educators, school staff and students are a top priority. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) has been working closely with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD) and its member schools on plans of how to safely return kids to school. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the OCDPH has been committed to working alongside the OAISD to address the needs of students, staff and their families. Both agencies continue that collaborative relationship as schools work through the difficult challenge of bringing students back to the classroom. 
“We have the privilege of a long history of working with the OAISD and area school leaders in response to a variety of communicable diseases and outbreaks,” said Deputy Health Administrator Marcia Mansaray. “Those years of experience have provided the foundation of trust and respect needed to navigate the unknown elements of this new virus together. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have brought our various areas of expertise to implement plans that recognize the importance of education, done in a way we never have before, for the safety of students and staff – and the greater community. We commit to getting through this together, carefully monitoring changes in coronavirus cases so we can respond quickly together to minimize disruption to schools and kids and families. We appreciate the strong support of our community as we all conduct a ‘living experiment’ with this virus to come through as the resilient community we have always been.”
Through this collaboration, both agencies worked together to create the Ottawa County Return to School Toolkit which provides details about what happens if there is a positive COVID-19 case in a school and how long a student or staff member must remain out of school. The protocols and information in the toolkit were developed based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Governor’s MI Safe Start Plan. Each school district has a designated COVID-19 liaison who will help with identifying a positive COVID-19 case for immediate follow-up and contact tracing.  

"In clearly the most significant disruption to public education in our lifetimes, we've been fortunate to face the challenges of COVID-19 with a remarkable community partner in the Ottawa County Department of Health and Dr. Paul Heidel," said Pete Haines, superintendent of Ottawa Area ISD. "For several months now, Dr. Heidel has not only made himself available to leaders in every public, charter and non-public school in Ottawa County 24/7, he has become the bedrock upon which we are building a plan for the return to learning. We could not possibly have managed this crisis without the calm and thoughtful guidance and responsiveness of OCDPH and their staff."


Click for the OCDPH Return to School Toolkit for Ottawa County Schools

Updated 8/18/2020 based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Information is subject to change upon new research and recommendations. Spanish translated materials are being processed.

For more information about Ottawa County's COVID-19 response, visit

Below is additional information from local, state and national sources that help guide a safe and healthy return to school.


The Ottawa Area Intermediate School District's #Return2School is a collaborative effort between education professionals, community members, families and students in the West Michigan area to provide guidance and resources to K-12 districts and schools as they plan for a return to school. LEARN MORE


Click to hear more information about #Return2School.


Michigan Safe School Roadmap


Executive Order 2020-142: 
Provision of preK–12 education for the 2020–2021 school year


CDC Toolkits