One-third of Virtual Vikings to return to classrooms second semester

NILES — High school students returned to classrooms last week, and Niles Community Schools Superintendent Dan Applegate could not be happier.

“Things are going really, really well,” Applegate said. “We have sent out reminders to parents to remind them to check for symptoms. Parents have been great at keeping students home.”

He said the students themselves are also happy to be back.

“You can see their smiles behind their masks,” Applegate said. “Our kids are really good kids. They want to be there. They want to be engaged.”

With Wednesday’s update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to the pandemic orders, Applegate said some sports practices will begin on Saturday. Other extracurricular activities will be starting back up as well.

Applegate said teachers and staff are also continuing to be vigilant in monitoring their symptoms on a daily basis. He said those actions, paired with the spacing, masks and increased precaution measures put in place at the beginning of the school year, have helped keep students in school safely.

“We have been very lucky and have had very, very low transmission [of COVID-19] in schools,” Applegate said. “We have been fortunate to not have to close our doors other than when the health orders mandate it.”

Other area schools, like Brandywine Community Schools and Buchanan Community Schools, have had to implement their own virtual learning periods for all students as student and staff quarantines due to exposure rose.

As the second semester nears its beginning next week, Applegate said about a third of students who enrolled in the school’s Virtual Viking program, which has adapted throughout the year, as feedback has been taken into account from students, parents and guardians, will be returning to in-person learning.

“Quite a few are returning from virtual,” Applegate said. “Any students we feel need to be supported with in-person instruction, we are strongly encouraging to have them return to in-person.”

Applegate said in-person education is what teachers excel at.

“In-person instruction is our goal. It’s the most effective method of instruction,” Applegate said.

Still, with two-thirds of Virtual Vikings opting to stay in a remote education setting, Applegate said there are plans in place for every student to go to remote education if mandates shift again.

“Our goal is to provide in-person [education] as long as we safely can, unless the Berrien County Health Department tells us to go a different direction,” Applegate said. “We have our plans already in place.”

Dowagiac

First woman of color to lead DUS board

Cassopolis

Cassopolis organization to host virtual MLK Jr. Day celebration

Berrien County

Community partners come together for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Cassopolis

Dr. T.K. Lawless International Dark Sky Park releases 2021 stargazing schedule

Education

Edwardsburg Public Schools accepting nominations for 2021-2022 Hall of Fame

Business

Riverfront accommodations coming to downtown Niles

Berrien County

Family, friends of victim respond to release of convicted murderer

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Cass, Van Buren counties report new COVID-19 deaths

Cass County

Cass County 4-H encourages seniors to apply for scholarship

Berrien County

New virus strain, vaccines take center stage of Berrien County Health Department update

Business

Small Shops to debut at The Grand LV this weekend

Brandywine Education

Haunted house to donate scholarships to area seniors

Education

One-third of Virtual Vikings to return to classrooms second semester

Dowagiac

Brent Brewer appointed to DUS school board

Business

Niles yoga instructor offering outdoor winter session Sunday

Berrien County

Fitness organizations gear up for reopening of indoor activities

Dowagiac

SMC mourns former college president

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 528,306 cases, 13,533 deaths

Breaking News

Niles man convicted of murdering girlfriend will be released from prison Thursday

Dowagiac

Dowagiac murderer held without bond

Business

Ice carvers begin work in downtown Niles

Berrien County

New MDHHS epidemic order allows indoor group exercise, non-contact sports

Berrien County

‘Heart of Cook’ now offering 2021 grants

Cass County

MEC lobbies to remain closed through Feb. 12