BHSJ mandates two-week in-person learning, athletics pause at TRHS

Increase in student COVID cases forces pause through May 7

THREE RIVERS — Three Rivers Community Schools announced Thursday they were required by the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency (BHSJ) to undergo a two-week pause of in-person learning and athletics at Three Rivers High School due to the recent increases in COVID-19 cases at the school.

The pause began Friday, April 23 and will last through Friday, May 7. No athletic events for high school teams will occur during this period. The Middle School and all elementary schools are not affected by the move.

This is the first pause of in-person learning for an entire school in the district since the high school and Three Rivers Middle School returned to in-person learning on March 24.

The move comes as 29 Three Rivers High School students and staff as of Thursday afternoon, including three student athletes, have tested positive for the virus since school returned to session from Spring Break on April 13. The positive cases have led to more than 153 students at the school, including both the varsity baseball and softball teams, being quarantined as of Thursday, according to TRHS Principal Carrie Balk.

Amid the cases and quarantines, on Monday, the Board of Education voted 5-1 to stay the course with in-person learning per their guidelines for re-opening passed back in March. Those requirements triggered the return to in-person learning at the middle school and high school when the seven-day average for COVID-19 positivity rate fell below 7.9 percent. When that happened, the board said they would stay with in-person learning until either a defined outbreak was reported or the health department required a shutdown.

The 7.9 percent threshold was reached on March 23. As of Thursday afternoon the seven-day case positivity rate in St. Joseph County is 18.8 percent, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or

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