Omicron variant of COVID-19 forces Michigan schools to cancel events in January


Credit: Michigan Department of ServicesHealth & Human

A visual representation of the layering defense strategy against COVID-19 in schools from the MDHHS, an image Dr. Rita Raichourdhuri used in the release to KPS families.

James Hauke, Multimedia Editor

As students and teachers return to school for the winter of 2022, there also happens to be a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly the omicron variant.

As students were on winter break for the last 2 weeks of December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement on December 20th, 2021 highlighting the growth of omicron in the United States.

Omicron has been detected in most states and territories and is rapidly increasing the proportion of COVID-19 cases it is causing,” the CDC published. 

The CDC have also stated that even though studies are still being conducted over omicron, the severity of the variant must be taken into consideration, especially as school comes back into session.

On January 3rd, 2022, Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) superintendent Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri released a letter to KPS families reassuring the district’s intent to minimize the threat against students from COVID-19 and its new variants, primarily omicron.

The district, in accordance with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), stated that “Events that include attendees outside of KPS students or staff will be limited to fewer than 100 people for the month of January.”

“Some events may be postponed or held remotely,” said Dr. Raichoudhuri in her email. “We will revisit this decision for February.” 

In response to this new measure to mitigate mass outbreaks, Loy Norrix (LN) Assistant Principal and athletic director Andrew Laboe released a letter to staff members stating that all sports games will not have any spectators during the month of January.

The LN athletics office has also decided to cancel all after school activities on January 7th to minimize the threat of the omicron variant as well as limiting the risk of crowding for the highly anticipated Norrix men’s basketball game against Kalamazoo Central that evening.

Another postponement involves the Norrix chapter of the National Honor Society and the LN performing arts program’s production of the musical “Something Rotten.”

The LN National Honor Society induction ceremony which was supposed to take place on January 4th in Kasdorf auditorium has been moved to February 15th following the new guidelines set by the MDHHS.

Likewise, Norrix’ production of “Something Rotten” has postponed the opening night of their show from January 21st to February 4th. Director Dan Lafferty said,  “As of now, the banning of spectators for events is just for the month of January, and so we’re hopeful for a February release.”