Coronavirus Response


Coronavirus Response

Dear MAPS Students, Parents, and Guardians

The Board of Education, at its meeting this morning, approved the district’s “Back to School” plan. In our plan, we have three potential options for students: face to face instruction five days a week, 100% virtual learning, or a hybrid of in person and online (i.e. core classes in person each day and electives online). 

Perhaps the #1 question I’ve received from parents struggling to make the best choice for their child’s education this fall is what the MAPS online learning will look like? Secondary to this question, the #1 request I’ve heard from parents is the desire to be connected to MAPS phenomenal classroom teachers. I’m proud to say that all our teachers and counselors will be highly involved in educating our online learners. Please see below links to descriptions of online learning for each of our various levels. I know I have many more questions to answer to help families make this choice and we’ll do our best to start answering more of those on a daily basis. We will continue to update our FAQ with responses to your questions, so please keep checking in. We’ll also host a virtual Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, August 18th starting at 4:00 p.m. We’ll be using the questions we’ve already been receiving to bring more clarity to what Fall 2020 will look like. 



Dear Parents and Guardians,
It’s been another eventful week planning for fall.  It may seem like small steps, but your student is at the forefront of our planning so we are taking great care in the process.
We are still reviewing and evaluating a number of different online learning options for K-12 students, with an emphasis on involving our own curriculum experts, MAPS teachers, in the delivery and support of those selecting this option full time.  This approach will also pair well with our own online planning for classroom teachers, in the event all learning is moved on-line by the Governor. 
Planning for face to face instruction, if permissible, is also moving along nicely. Some of the most common questions we are receiving are specific to how we are handling COVID-19 in the school environment. Here’s a link to an info graphic on our website that was put together by the county health directors across the state and shared with us by Marquette County Health Department:  Link to School Handout Set.  If you have trouble with the link, just go to our website at  On the home page you can select District Bulletin, then Coronavirus Response, and then download “School Handout Set”.  We’ll use this info graphic to help guide our decision making and planning. It was specified that this plan is fluid as the continuous stream of new data impacts how we deal with COVID. I hope you find this helpful. 
Please know we are working hard to answer the hundreds of other questions and concerns you have. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
William B. Saunders,



Dear Parents and Students,

Last week I sent the first of many updates to keep you informed on the progress MAPS is making in planning for a return to school and also in offering on-line options for those electing to keep their students home. The plan review has been daunting but at the same time very good as we are slowly developing answers to the hundreds of questions received.

This week we had our first committee meeting to look at the important, big picture decisions that will impact how we look this fall. We had great discussions and, while we didn’t get far, we answered some important questions. The majority of our committee supported the wearing of masks by staff and students for all grades, K-12. This requirement will encompass the classroom and common spaces such as hallways. We fully understand we’ll need to provide more leeway for our youngest students, developmentally challenged students, and students with medical conditions that prevent mask wearing. Our expert staff will also be prepared to offer more outdoor breaks and outdoor lessons that give students a reprieve from this requirement. Our committee also weighed in heavily that we should, as a district, socially distance wherever possible. This would include appropriately spacing desks and tables, mark spacing in hallways and bathrooms, etc. 

A theme we continue to use to develop our plans is sustainability. Our initial plans and requirements may seem rigid, but it’s all in an effort to prevent the risk of infection or spread of COVID among students or staff. If that were to occur, it would likely shut us down and force us into on-line only options. We want to keep the option of face to face instruction viable for all those counting on us to deliver in this method.   We expect to see this as the majority of our families because students learn better in this format; it frees parents to be able to work; and we know that students still need socialization. We ask that you please support these and future requirements so the program can continue. We are hopeful to meet the needs of both online and face to face supporters without conflict for either group.

Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and concerns. We hope to get these posted on our website next week as a resource for all parents.

I appreciate your patience and support of MAPS.

William Saunders,



Dear MAPS Parents and Guardians,

It’s been awhile since my last communication. It seems every time I get started on an update, the information I’m prepared to share is outdated before I can hit send. We all know COVID-19 is having a profound impact on our society, our safety and wellness, and our education system.  The issues created are new and complex. We don’t have exact answers or remedies for everything we are dealing with. However, there are a few things I can share to bring some clarity to families. We are working diligently on developing plans to meet the needs of our students and families. For starters, I’ve asked administrators and a parent and teacher from each building to join me on a committee to help iron out the specifics of a face to face instructional program. If allowed, and currently we are, we will be prepared to start school in-person on September 8th as we intended. In all likelihood, this return to the classroom will look different than our opening last September. One of my main goals of a return to the classroom is to build a sustainable model that parents and families will be able to rely on. It is my intention to update you weekly as we move closer to the start of school and as the committee works through the intricate details of what face to face instruction will look like. 

I also understand and respect that many families would prefer an online option over face to face instruction. MAPS will contract with Michigan Virtual, Edgenuity, or other vendor(s) that provide rigorous options that most closely match what our teachers provide students day to day. I ask that if you are interested in being fully online that you sign up for this option through MAPS. This will help ensure that your student is on track to return to face to face instruction, is on track to graduate from MAPS, and will prevent a loss of funding that could have devastating effects long into the future. We’ll provide more information in the coming weeks on the vendor or vendors we intend to partner with. If this is an option you are seriously considering, please contact my office at 225-4200 so we can begin to understand the number of families who might take advantage of this. 

Information will start coming out at a fast and furious pace as we get nearer to school. Meanwhile, I hope you all get a chance to enjoy the unbelievable weather and the full seven weeks off yet before school starts. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns.
Stay safe and healthy!

William Saunders,


April 7, 2020

Dear MAPS Students, Parents and Guardians,

These are unprecedented and unnerving times. Our first thoughts and priorities are for the safety and well being of all students and families. We hope you're making the best decisions to keep yourselves insulated from the ill effects of this terrible virus. I think I speak for our entire faculty and staff when I say how much we miss our students, daily class activities, traditional ceremonies, and normalcy of everyday school. Unfortunately, it will be awhile before we are all back together.

Thursday, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order cancelling school for the remainder of the year. In this order she also mandated that schools provide on-line learning. MAPS has been planning for the potential of offering on-line learning for some time and will begin a program starting April 15th.

I hope to share a few things we should all keep in mind. First, the program is intended to bring back some normalcy and keep the learning continuum going. It is not intended to fully replace the traditional classroom learning students were accustomed to. That system isn’t possible with the lack of face to face time, personal connections, and communication barriers. Second, we have designed a platform to meet the needs of all students. We understand there will be connectivity issues, device issues, time issues, and other personal factors out of our students' control. Lessons will be disseminated weekly or in some cases for multiple weeks; we’ll provide some taped instruction or recorded live instruction that can be played back later; we’ll give the flexibility to learn at any time and at any pace; we’ll provide homework packets for those without access; and we’ll communicate to students through several mediums. Lastly, as much as we hope everyone will participate, the state has placed no requirement on the individual student to learn.We feel the efforts of our teachers and classroom aides in building this learning model will prevent students from falling behind or having a learning slide, will fill in learning gaps students may have experienced in our current year, and will build a solid foundation for which to be successful in the upcoming year. Parents, if at all possible, please create a daily or weekly routine for your child in which they set aside time to focus on learning and making connections with school.

I recently sent a School Messenger phone, text and email to parents asking folks to alert their building principal if you lack a device such as a Chromebook, or have no internet or cell reception (ability to access an email or website). We’ll do our best to get families these items if possible. This may depend on the Governor’s Stay Home/Stay Safe order. If it isn’t safe to pass out these items to families in need, we’ll print and mail packets until it is safe to distribute these items. Additionally, the district has installed WiFi access pointing out into the parking lots at each school building. These locations are noted with signage. Feel free to pull up and use the internet to download assignments, view web pages, etc. You need only to sign on as a MAPS Guest.

We’ve had lots of questions regarding school events, locker contents, 3rd quarter grading, etc. I can speak broadly and say, based on the Governor’s order, all events through June 10th are cancelled in the traditional format; some events may happen virtually. If, and when, the Stay Home/Stay Safe order is lifted we’ll reconsider rescheduling events. Again, based on the Governor's order, it is not possible to gather locker contents. This is for your safety and that of our employees. All decisions on grading will come from your building principal. Please reach out to them with questions.

One other side note, I‘d like to thank all our medical health professionals, first responders, firefighters, police, grocery store employees and others working the front lines of this pandemic. I’d also like to highlight the outstanding efforts of MAPS food service employees working to keep our students fed. Lastly, a big shout out to Becky LaBrecque, the MAPS Ed. Foundation, and the many other community members who are dedicating their time and efforts to make masks and shields for our front line medical personnel working to keep us all safe.I hope to continue communicating weekly with our students and parents as we navigate the remainder of this school year. I’m sure more changes and challenges lie ahead.Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns.

Bill Saunders,
Marquette Area Public Schools

April 6, 2020

Attention Parents and Guardians:  The recent executive order closing schools for the year and mandating on-line learning has us wondering if you are connected to the internet and have a device?  If not, please email your school principal. Thanks and be safe!

Marquette Senior High School:
Marquette Alternative High School:
Bothwell Middle School: 
Cherry Creek Elementary School:
Graveraet Elementary School:
Sandy Knoll Elementary School:
Superior Hills Elementary School:

March 26, 2020
Dear Students, Families and Guardians,

It’s been a roller coaster four plus weeks leading up to and including the closure of school. I wish, after two weeks of being closed, I had more answers to some of the questions I’ve been asked. As you are all aware, the Governor extended our three week closure another six days through April 13th. I’ve heard indications school could be closed for the remainder of the year, but at this point that is just hearsay. 

The major concern brought to me by parents is the education of students in this ongoing absence from school. To date, the Michigan Department of Education has advised against districts requiring any on-line learning. There is concern that any mandated district program would struggle to comply with laws surrounding Special Education, 504, At-Risk and other student populations. There is also concern from the MDE that not every student would have the connectivity to participate. Also, they fear districts wouldn’t have a mechanism for counting students accurately to ensure full participation. I will say, as time goes on, I’m starting to hear of potential flexibility in the strict guidelines associated with on-line learning. As we wait for more clarification, students and parents can look forward to teachers making contact with students and lists of resources for further enrichment. The district will be ready for on-line education if and when it's given the green light to proceed. If you require a device or internet access for enrichment or on-line learning, please email your school principal. When the Stay Home/Stay Safe order is lifted, MAPS will work to ensure all students have access to the technology they need. 

More somber news to share. Along with school being closed through April 13th, all activities, including athletic practices, scheduled for this time period are cancelled as well. Additionally, we’ve been informed that Bay Cliff science camps for 5th and 7th grades have been cancelled this year. Please know that addressing this void for these affected students will be a top priority for principals entering next fall. 

Our food service program has been a bright star through this ordeal. They are viewed as essential employees per the stay home/stay safe executive order and have been feeding 300-400 families each for breakfast and lunch every day. Recently, to avoid exposure, they’ve been distributing meals to cover a four-day time period. This will continue as long as school is out and our workers remain healthy. I hope, if you get a chance, you’ll join me in saluting these dedicated folks on the outstanding job they perform. They put themselves in harm's way each time they distribute food for the health and well being of our students. They rock!

MAPS workers, like many other businesses, are primarily sheltering in place. Our essential workers continue to work from home so that paychecks, insurance and other necessities remain consistent. These workers, along with many principals and staff, remain available to answer questions or concerns by email. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help you in any way.

I wish everyone a safe and healthy time away!


Bill Saunders, Superintendent

Marquette Area Public Schools 

Dear MAPS Faculty and Staff,

Today Governor Whitmer issued an executive order to shelter in place. She is encouraging all Michiganders to stay home and stay safe. This takes effect at 12:01 a.m and runs through April 13th. Schools are also to remain closed through April 13th. I understand this brings on a slew of questions that I’ll do my best to answer through this correspondence or upcoming communications. Please also be patient with us as the executive orders are outpacing the MDE and the legislatures ability to amend state law or policies; leaving MAPS and all districts throughout the state in limbo on several key fronts. A few things I can share moving forward for tomorrow and the rest of the week:

*The Governor’s order allows essential personnel of businesses to continue- For MAPS this is our food service, Central Office, and Tech folks. Food service is doing an amazing job of supplying approximately 600 meals each day for breakfast and lunch combined. Central Office is ensuring paychecks, insurance, retirement, state reporting, communications, etc. continue. Technology is making possible work from home options, communication tools, and infrastructure are in place to support all these changes. Everyone who can work from home is being asked to do so.

*I’ve extended State of Emergency pay for hourly workers through the end of this week, March 27th. The week of March 30th was our scheduled spring break. We are hopeful this is an area the legislature addresses tomorrow giving districts clear guidance on whether days will be forgiven or be required to be made up at a later time? This determination very much affects the budget and pay structure. As I’ve said previously, we intend to pay folks for what was budgeted for this school year. 

*What role should non essential personnel be playing over this stretch? Almost everyone should adhere to the executive order of stay home/stay safe. The only exceptions are the essential personnel previously identified and potentially custodians. A custodian may report for a circumstance that may compromise the building i.e. a boiler check, alarm situation, or an emergency. We’ll revisit this directive the week of April 6th if it looks like we may need to gear up and prepare for students to come back on the 14th of April.

*What role should administrators, counselors, and faculty play over this extended down time? It would be my hope that we would all continue to communicate with staff, students and families. Let’s try to bring as much normalcy as we can to students and families during these unprecedented times. Administrators should continue fostering conversations with staff about on-line teaching options (this could be real option soon if MDE or the legislature give the green light). It is my hope teachers would continue building connections with students through google classroom, Zoom, Bloom’s, etc. At this point, we can only suggest resources and on-line supplements. We can’t actually require any learning due to issues with Special Ed., 504, connectivity and other areas that require differentiation and accommodations. There is a role, albeit much more limited, we can all play to support students grappling with this life changing event. 

I can’t say enough how proud I am of the many folks who have stepped up in food service, those continuing student connections, those helping the hospital or other community organizations and those givers who are supporting colleagues and families who are struggling with these societal changes.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay positive for our students and community!

William B. Saunders
March 23rd, 2020

Dear Parents, Students, and Staff,

In light of today’s Executive Order for Stay Home-Stay Safe, we have decided to create a schedule for the next couple of weeks.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24th, will be our normal schedule.  Beginning on Wednesday, March 25th, we will begin handing out meals for multiple days.  We will provide Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Monday’s meals  all to be picked up on Wednesday.  Our next delivery day is Tuesday, March 31st.  On the 31st you will receive supplies for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Monday.  The next delivery day is Tuesday, April 7th.  These supplies will be for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday.

    MSHS 11:00-12:00 in front of the canopy entrance please pull up 

    Graveraet 10:50-11:10, Employee Parking Lot

    Superior Hills 11:20-11:40, Parking Lot in front of School

    Cherry Creek 12:00-12:20, Parking Lot in front of School

It is crucial that during these times we try to keep a distance of 6 feet from each other.  Please understand this is for your safety and ours.  Please stand back until we place your food on the drop table or place it into your vehicle.  

We will continue to offer JJ Packs through our new schedule.   They have been amazing and we will continue to work with JJ Packs while supplies last.

Please email me if you have any questions at

We look forward to seeing you.


Chris Collins, Food Service Director
March 13th, 2020
Dear Parents, Students, and Staff, 

MAPS is pleased to announce that we will begin offering FREE Breakfast and Lunch to Students beginning Monday March 16th. These meals will be offered as a grab and go option at MSHS, under the canopy entrance. JJ packs will also be available for pick up and brought home. Meal times will be 8-9 for breakfast and 11:30-12:30 for lunch. A family can pick up both breakfast and lunch and JJ Packs, while supplies last, at the same time. 

We are currently offering yogurt, string cheese, muffin, fruit, fruit juice and milk for breakfast. We will offer a sandwich, goldfish cracker, fruit, baby carrots and milk for lunch. JJ packs will be offering dry and canned goods during this emergency. 

We look forward to seeing you at MSHS. 
Chris Collins, Food Service Director 
Dear Families,

It has been an unprecedented week as our country deals with containment and implementation of safety measures for COVID-19. I’ve personally viewed many of the measures being taken across all spectrums of our society as initially shocking, as I’ve never experienced this level of shutdown in my lifetime. After the shock wears off, I look at all the measures being taken as proactive short-term solutions meant to expedite our return to normalcy. Last night's announcement by Governor Whitmer at 11:00 p.m. was one of those shocking moments. My reaction was to close school today and provide as much notice to parents as possible. I anticipated panic from parents and students that may have resulted in low attendance; a result that may have cost our district tens of thousands of dollars. I thought there may be a perspective out there that if it wasn’t safe to attend March 16-April 5th, what would make March 13th any safer? I apologize to those families who were inconvenienced by my decision to close today.

MAPS has been planning for a short-term shutdown focusing on student needs. I’m pleased to announce that JJ Packs is assembling take home meal kits to help feed students in need over the next few weekends. Starting Monday, MAPS will be operating a breakfast service from 8:00-9:00 a.m. and a lunch service from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. daily at Marquette Senior High School for the duration of the break. Anyone in our community 18 and under will receive these meals for free. Our kitchen staff intends to limit contact by handing these meals off at the canopy entrance for students to be consumed off site.

Megan's Family Daycare is also willing to provide daycare in a limited area of Superior Hills Elementary School over the mandatory break to help distressed parents.  If you are a parent concerned about daycare options, I would encourage you to reach out to this business.

An unfortunate casualty of the coronavirus has been athletic competitions. I feel horribly for our student athletes who worked so hard to be good at their sports and were unable to finish; Boys Hockey and Boys Basketball were still alive in the MHSAA tournaments. With the Governor’s announcement to close all schools, the MHSAA has mandated canceling all spring sports practices through April 5th. They will reevaluate resuming these activities when school is back in session.

School buildings will be open today and Monday for students to pick up books, instruments, boots, snow pants, etc. We are viewing the mandatory closure as an extended break at this point so we won’t be requiring any studies; however, we will be publicizing a list of websites for every level so students who choose to remain engaged in learning activities can do so.  We also view this as an opportunity to have time not normally available during the school year.  Custodians will be working during these two weeks and will be providing an intensive cleanse throughout the buildings.

Once again, I understand how disruptive this shutdown is for all families. I’m hopeful our short-term pain and struggles will lead to a quicker return to normalcy. If there is anything we can do to ease this burden, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Thanks for all your support of the Marquette Area Public Schools!

Michigan Association of School Boards

At a press conference late this evening, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and State Superintendent Michael Rice announced that all K-12 school buildings—public, private and boarding—are ordered to be closed from Monday, March 16 to Sunday, April 5, 2020, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Buildings can reopen on Monday, April 6.

"This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families and our overall public health, "said Gov. Whitmer. "I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food.

I know this will be a tough time, but we're doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge everyone to make smart choices during this time and to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families."

As of tonight, the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan is 12; there were two as of yesterday.

“Closing our K-12 school buildings is the responsible choice that will minimize the risk of exposure for children, educators and families and mitigate the spread of coronavirus,” said Michigan State Superintendent Michael Rice. “The Department of Education will continue to work closely with our partners in state government to help our students and educators in each school district get through this time. This is about protecting the most people in Michigan.”

“Closing our school buildings is the smart thing and the right thing to do for the public’s health,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “These actions will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. I will continue to work with Gov. Whitmer and our four COVID-19 task forces to ensure we protect our children, our families and our communities.”

 March 12, 2020

Yesterday afternoon Governor Whitmer issued an executive order with recommendations intended to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, now known as COVID-19. MAPS had already implemented or acted on all but two of the suggestions. Starting tomorrow, March 13th, we will comply with the two remaining recommendations. 

The MSHS attendance policy and the MSHS exam exemption incentive will be indefinitely suspended. 

MAPS will be postponing all large gatherings and events of over 100 people through March 27th. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: 

Empty Bowls, March 13th
Youth Volleyball Tournament, March 14th
Board of Education Meeting, March 16th
Cherry Creek Coding Fest, March 17th
5th Grade Chili Cook-Off, March 18th
Solo and Ensemble Fest, March 19th
One School, One Book Night, March 20th
Cherry Creek Movie Night, March 20th
TWIRP Dance, March 21st
Spotlight on The Arts, March 24th
Junior Parent Night, March 24th
High School Academic Awards Night, March 25th.

As the State of Michigan or Marquette County Health Department issues directives or recommendations, MAPS will fully comply.  We will continue our practice of weaving these recommended protocols into plans already established in preparation for the health and safety of our students and staff. 

*The MAPS Technology Department is open for damaged district devices (such as Chromebooks) to be repaired. Hours are weekdays 7:30am to 3pm

Message from Linda Johnson, RN

MAPS District Nurse

Dear School Community,

As you all have heard, Coronavirus is in the news. I would like to share a little information on what we all can do to help stay healthy.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person by respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the viruses spread.

Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptom of fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions: 
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Try humming the “Happy   Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. 
Use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available. 
Stay home when you are sick and contact your health care provider. Students should not come to school for at least 24 hours after they are fever free (less than 100.4 F) without the use of fever reducing medicine. 
Students with influenza symptoms will need a longer period of isolation to aid recovery and prevent spread of illness. 
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw tissue in the trash. If no tissue is immediately available, cough or sneeze into your elbow. 
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as cell phones, key boards, tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, faucets.

District administration and key staff are meeting regularly on this issue. Our plan is to keep students and staff engaged in the learning process while mitigating the spread of infections. I will continue to keep you updated as I receive information.

Thank you,
Linda Johnson RN, District Nurse MAPS