TCAPS Safe Start Plan

TCAPS Health & Safety Protocols Video

Public Notice: COVID-19 Communications & Case Reporting

TCAPS Communications Regarding COVID-19 Cases

Whenever the district receives notification of a school-related confirmed case of COVID-19 in a TCAPS student or staff member, we will make every attempt to be as transparent as possible. Due to confidentiality laws and policies, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, we will generally not be able to provide specific information regarding any particular case.

Please know that you will be contacted directly by the Grand Traverse County Health Department if your child is a close contact with someone in the school setting who tested  positive for COVID-19. The Health Department will advise you on what steps to take. If your family is not contacted by the Health Department, that means your child was not identified as a close contact of the person who tested positive.

As with other communicable diseases such as pertussis, whooping cough, etc., and consistent with confidentiality laws and rules, the school district will promptly inform staff and families of any COVID-19 positive cases to which they or their student may have been exposed.

Given the size of the district, communications will go out at the specific building or program level. However, all district COVID-19 communications will be posted and publicly available on this webpage. 

TCAPS COVID-19 Communications & Case Reporting

Building New Cases Cumulative Cases Date Notified by Health Dept.*
Blair            0                   0  
Central Grade            0                   0  
Central High            0                   2                    10/23/20
Cherry Knoll            0                   1                    10/01/20
Courtade            0                   1                    09/26/20
East Middle            0                   1                    10/20/20
Eastern            0                   0  
Long Lake            0                   0  
Silver Lake            0                   0  
Support Buildings            0                   0  
TCAPS Montessori            0                   0  
TC High            0                   0  
Traverse Heights            0                   0  
West Middle            0                   0  
West Senior            1                   3                    10/24/20
Westwoods            0                   0  
Willow Hill            0                   0  
TCAPS District            1                   8  

chart last updated (10/24/20)
*This column represents the last date the school received notification from the health department of a new school-associated case. Per
PDF DocumentMDHHS Emergency Order Under MCL 333.2253, A school-associated case is defined as a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case among students, teachers, school staff members, or any other person who was present on school property or at a school function under circumstances that may result in the transmission or contraction of COVID-19 during their infectious period.

Google DocCOVID-19 Close Contact & Quarantine Information & FAQs

External LinkTBAISD COVID-19 Case Reporting & Information

MDHHS School Outbreak Reporting

In its September 14th press release, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) announced it will begin reporting outbreak information by school building. Data will be collected from 45 local health departments across the state weekly. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases with a link by place and time indicating a shared exposure outside of a household. 

The information will be posted on External LinkMichigan's Coronavirus website each Monday at 3 p.m., and will include K-12, college and university school name, address, number of cases and if the cases involved staff, students or both. Students or staff exposed to COVID-19 outside the school building and are not thought to have spread the virus in the school due to quarantine or self-isolation are not included in the data. PDF DocumentView full MDHHS press release.

COVID-19 Procedures

COVID-19 Procedures

Procedures for COVID-19 Positive Cases and Close Contacts

Students and staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 through the Grand Traverse County Health Department’s contract tracing efforts will be released to return to school or work, once they have completed their quarantine or self-isolation period. The school district receives information directly from the Grand Traverse County Health Department about when students and staff members who are under a Health Department quarantine or self-isolation period may return to school or work. Updated release information is provided to the school district daily.

Procedures for Students Pending COVID-19 Test Results

Students who have been directed by their primary care physician or health clinic to quarantine pending the results of a COVID-19 test are asked to provide a doctor’s note prior to returning to school. The school district is collaborating with area doctors’ offices, school districts, and Health Departments to help create consistency across medical practices. Many doctors’ offices plan to directly provide the school district a note clearing a patient to return to school as well as provide a copy of the note to the parent/guardian. While not required, providing a doctor’s note before a student returns to school is strongly recommended.

Procedures for Student-Athletes

Per guidance from the Michigan High School Athletic Association, student-athletes are required to provide a doctor’s note prior to returning to play. External LinkClick here for additional information.

Student/Staff Member Privacy and Confidentiality

Please remember that there are many reasons that students or staff members may not be at school or may return to school after being out. We must all do our part to avoid gossip and speculation to ensure that all students and staff members feel welcomed and supported, especially those who may be absent or who are returning to school after an absence. 

Reminder About COVID-19 in the Community

Additionally, parents are asked to continue to reinforce with students the importance of the additional cleaning and safety procedures TCAPS has implemented this school year, including mask wearing and frequent hand washing/sanitizing, as each adds an additional layer of protection against the virus. Because there continues to be COVID-19 present in the community, parents should assume that at any time there could be a student or staff member in their school community who may be quarantining or self-isolating. Families should take all precautions deemed necessary on a daily basis. 

Quick Links

PDF DocumentDaily Student Health Screening Tool

PDF DocumentWhen Is It Safe to Leave Home

Community Letter Regarding Upcoming Holidays

Stay Safe to Stay Open

With the recent increase of positive cases across the region, health officials are urging families to consider modified holiday celebrations that are small, local, and encourage wearing of masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene practices to help slow the spread of the virus. Our goal is to stay safe, keep our schools open face-to-face, and our businesses and economy moving forward.

Please take a moment to read the PDF DocumentOctober 23, 2020, community letter regarding the upcoming holidays and guidance to consider before, during and after a gathering to stay safe this holiday season. This information is being shared as part of a joint collaboration of regional health officers, school leadership and community leaders. 

Past Communications

Oct. 20: 2020-21 Safe Start Feedback Survey Ends Nov. 2

TCAPS Families,

I would like to invite you to participate in a External Linkshort 2020-21 Safe Start Feedback Survey to share how your student's learning experience has been so far this school year.

Your input will be useful as we work to continuously improve the quality of the learning options and supporting tools that we provide to our students and families. 

Responses will be accepted through the end of day on Monday, November 2, 2020. Thank you in advance for your feedback and your time.

Take the Survey Now


John R. VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Oct: 15: Meal Service Information for "No School" Days

Meal Service Information for "No School" Days

TCAPS students participating in the district's face-to-face learning option will still have access to meals for the November "No School" days designated in the district school year calendar. Meal service information for the November days where school is not in session is as follows: 

  • Tuesday, November 3rd (Election Day) - No School for Students
    On request, additional meals may be picked up during the Saturday, October 31st, meal distribution at TC West Middle School between 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
  • November 25-27 (Thanksgiving Recess) - No School for Students
    Meals for the three day period may be picked on Wednesday, November 25th, at TC West Middle School between 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
  • November 28-29 Weekend
    The regular Saturday weekend meal service option will resume on Saturday, November 28th, for Saturday and Sunday meals. Pickup is at TC West Middle School between 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. 

The weekly meal service schedule for students participating in the district's UpNorth Virtual Live and On Demand options remains unchanged. Saturday meal pickups for November will be held on November 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th, from 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. at TC West Middle School. 

Oct. 6: Message from the Superintendent

October 6th Message from the Superintendent

Staff and Families,

Thank you for a successful first few weeks of the school year. I have been grateful for the ongoing support and flexibility of our parents as we entered this unique year. I have also been very impressed with the high quality teaching and learning that I have seen our staff delivering throughout the district, whether in-person or virtually, and I am proud of the top notch levels of service that our support staff continues to provide to our students, families and their coworkers. 

What I have been most impressed with, however, is the resiliency and positivity that I see our students bringing to school with them each day. Even as their daily routines and other things they knew to be “normal” parts of school life are changed or reimagined this year, our students continue to adapt and grow. It is incredible to witness. Without the commitment, support and cooperation of thousands of TCAPS families, students and staff, we would not have been able to achieve so many things together during a difficult and constantly changing time. Thank you.

As you know, one of the health and safety measures that TCAPS has included in its planning for this school year, which is designed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, is having students and staff wear masks in school buildings and on buses, except under specific circumstances or with a medical waiver. Mask wearing adds an important layer of protection and is part of the district’s PDF DocumentCOVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and thePDF DocumentExtended COVID-19 Learning Plan, which was approved by the TCAPS Board of Education and the state, as required by legislation that was passed and signed into law in mid-August. 

While you may have read about the recent ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court regarding the Governor’s emergency executive order authorities or the subsequent PDF Documentemergency order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services late yesterday regarding gatherings and mask wearing, please note that the district intends to continue to follow the health and safety measures as outlined in our plan, including the use of masks at school. Our plan will be revisited each month by the Board of Education, as required by law. We appreciate the effort that everyone has put into complying with new routines this year, and we recognize that by layering multiple health and safety measures, including mask wearing, we are helping to keep our schools open for face-to-face instruction.

In addition, I wanted to make you aware that the school district has an Operating Millage/Headlee Rollback Prevention proposal on the November 3, 2020 ballot. It is the funding source that allows the district to receive the minimum per pupil funding from the state. Please find additional information about the proposal below or by visiting:

operating millage

Sept. 17: New Free Meal Distribution Site Announced

TCAPS Announces New Free Meal Distribution Site

Meal Pickups on Saturdays at Traverse City West Middle School

TCAPS will continue to provide free nutritious meals to all children age 18 or under (or students with disabilities under age 26) through the end of 2020 (or until funding runs out**). Beginning Saturday, September 19, 2020, meal distribution will be offered once per week on Saturdays at Traverse City West Middle School (3950 Silver Lake Rd.).

Meals for families participating in the UpNorth Virtual program and children within the community can receive an entire week’s worth of meal components each Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Students returning to face-to-face instruction on September 21, 2020, will receive daily meals at their school. Beginning September 26, 2020, they can pick up weekend meals on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Meals will be distributed in the front parking lot between the main entrance and the loading dock. The person picking up the meals is asked to stay in their car. Food service staff members will deliver the meals directly to you.

Google DocAdditional information regarding the 2020-2021 Food and Nutrition Services plan can be found here.

**Apply Today for Free & Reduced Meals 

The USDA waivers that are allowing TCAPS to offer these free meals to families are set to expire on 12/31/20, but the USDA has also announced that they may expire sooner. Due to this announcement, we strongly recommend that parents apply for free and reduced priced meals now. That will allow students that qualify for free and reduced meals to seamlessly receive those benefits if the USDA announces that the free meals are ending. Applications must be completed each year; those applications are also used for several other grant programs in TCAPS. In addition, students who qualify for free and reduced meals also qualify for college application fee waivers and SAT/ACT fee waivers. So please submit your Free & Reduced Meals Application here.

For students with allergies, please fill out this form and return it to your school on an annual basis.

Sept. 4: Back to School Message

September 4, 2020 - Back to School Message

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

When I began writing this letter, two words that are a well known part of U.S. Marine training kept popping into my head: “Adapt and Overcome.” In my brief time with TCAPS, I have seen incredible work being done over countless hours on behalf of your children. TCAPS truly lives up to its reputation of excellence across the state and staff is working around the clock to prepare to welcome you, our students and families, to the 2020-21 academic year. I am so proud to be part of this talented, hard working team, and I am proud to have joined such a welcoming community that values education and cares about its schools.

Here is how I see the idea of adapting and overcoming relating to our safe return to school: 

A - Acceptance - This is the hand we were dealt, so we must rise up, problem-solve, and prepare to deliver.

D - Delivery - Our 100% highly qualified teaching staff are ready to deliver education to our students. 

A - Affirmation - We know this will be a fluid and constantly changing time and we will constantly review what we are doing and make any necessary adjustments along the way. 

P - Patience - Throughout this challenging time, we must each extend kindness and empathy to one another and exercise patience. The bottom line is our staff wants what is best for your student and nothing less. 

T - Together - Thank you for remaining with us. Together, we can do this.

As we previously announced, TCAPS will begin the academic year on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, with remote instruction. In a very short amount of time, this incredibly dedicated and hard working staff has definitely ADAPTed. They have come up with different options for learning designed to meet the needs of your family - all of which will offer personal attention to your student; whether face-to-face, UpNorth Virtual Live, or UpNorth Virtual On Demand. 

Most importantly, our staff and community clearly have a can-do attitude to OVERCOME the challenges. Together, we will get the job of teaching our children done with the compassion and attention they deserve. I encourage you to visit the website for additional information and updates. I also encourage you to stay tuned to messages and information coming from your child’s school.   

As we head into the Labor Day weekend, I want to thank you for trusting in TCAPS to not only provide your students with the high-quality education they deserve, but to also do so in an unprecedented time of change. To the many members of our staff who have worked so hard over these past months to provide these opportunities, thank you. Our students’ health and well-being will always be at the forefront of our decision-making.

No matter which educational option your family chose this year, we are committed to making this a positive and successful year of learning for your child. While this year will inevitably bring with it some changes to our normal routines and challenges we will have to face, we know that with our parents, our families, and our community as our partners, we can use this year to learn, grow, and succeed together.

As an additional resource, please find 2020-2021 Safe Start At-A-Glance information:

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.


Dr. John VanWagoner
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Sept. 8-18: Free Meal Service Available

On August 31, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is extending a suite of nationwide waivers through the end of 2020, or until funding runs out. This will allow TCAPS to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost. Free “Packaged to go” breakfast and lunch will be offered to all children age 18 or under (or students with disabilities under age 26). Weekend meals will also be available. 

View district menus here.

Remote Learning or UpNorth Virtual

  • During remote learning September 8-18, all buildings will have breakfast and lunch available for pickup from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M.  
  • Meals will be handed out Monday through Friday; weekend meals will be handed out with Friday’s meals. 
  • Parents can select what school they would like to pick up the meals from (does not have to be the home school).
  • The person picking up the meals should use the designated entrance and they will receive the pre-packaged meals.

Google DocClick here for meal delivery locations.

Aug. 24: TCAPS  Safe Start Plan Summary

August 24, 2020 - TCAPS  Safe Start Plan Summary

TCAPS Families, 

Tonight, the district presented a summary of the Google SlideTCAPS Safe Start Plan to the Board of Education, which is shared with families at Please also find a short Video Documentvideo highlighting some of the safety procedures for the 2020-2021 school year. We hope you will find the summary presentation answers many questions about what the first two weeks of school will look like for those enrolling in face-to-face instruction (both while operating remotely Sept. 8-18 and once in-person instruction resumes on Sept. 21)** and the options available under the UpNorth Virtual Live and On Demand programs. 

We also wanted to share that the deadline to indicate your interest in enrolling in the UpNorth Virtual Live program has been extended. Families interested in the program are asked to fill out this Google Formsform by 11:59 p.m. on August 26th. (Please note: this form does not constitute enrollment into the UpNorth Virtual Live program, but is intended to inform the district if sufficient interest in the program exists. A minimum of 25 students per course is required in order for a course to be offered. Should there be sufficient interest, families will be notified of any additional registration requirements.) Families who may have questions in addition to those answered in the Google SlideTCAPS Safe Start Plan or Google DocUpNorth Virtual FAQs about the UpNorth Virtual offerings are invited to attend a virtual parent information session, which will be held on Tuesday, August 25th from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Please submit questions for the session using this Google Formsform. Questions may be submitted up until 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25th.

Families can participate via Google Meet using the information below. 

TCAPS UpNorth Virtual Family Information Session

  • What: Opportunity to ask questions related to the UpNorth Virtual Live and On Demand programs.
  • When: Tuesday, August 25, 2020, 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. 
  • How to Participate: Join with Google Meet, or join by phone +1 585-491-9525 (PIN: 830136494)
  • How to Submit Questions: Submit questions at: Google Forms by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25th. Any questions submitted after the deadline or that are not able to be answered during the session, will be added to the UpNorth Virtual Frequently Asked Questions document found online at

** Mode of instruction (face-to-face, hybrid, or remote) determined based on current health recommendations, state reopening phases, and other health and safety information. The Traverse City region is currently in Phase 5.


Dr. John VanWagoner
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Aug. 10: COVID-19 Preparedness & Response Plan & TCAPS Safe Start Plan

COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and the TCAPS Safe Start Plan

On August 10, 2020, the Board of Education approved the district’s state-required COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and the TCAPS Safe Start Plan. Under the TCAPS Safe Start Plan, the school year will begin virtually on September 8th and continue online for the first two weeks of school, with face-to-face instruction planned to begin on September 21st. You can PDF Documentview the presentation shared at the August 10th Board meeting on the district’s website, which includes the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and results from the staff and parent return to school surveys. The Board will hear an update regarding school reopening plans and COVID-19 trends at its meeting on September 14th.

Students will begin the first two weeks of the school year with remote instruction where they will get to know their teachers and classroom procedures, practice using online learning tools, and begin learning course content. The virtual start will help prepare students, families, and staff in the event that a classroom, school or the entire district is required to move to a fully virtual format at some point during the school year. Staff will also have the opportunity for on-the-job training on new cleaning protocols and building procedures as well as have the opportunity to receive further training on Brightspace, the district’s new online teaching and learning platform for all classrooms.

With the two-week online TCAPS Safe Start Plan now in place, we will be sharing additional information with families in the coming weeks, including how to access technology and what to expect during the first two weeks of school. We will also be working closely with union leadership to clarify employee expectations and to outline the blend of work and training opportunities available for staff during the first two weeks of school. Specific information related to each labor group will be shared with staff as it becomes available.

We know how important the reopening of our schools is to our community, which is why it is critical that we do everything in our power to get it right. By taking a measured approach to beginning the 2020-2021 school year, we will be better prepared to start school safely and the extra time will give us the ability to see how school reopening proceeds in other districts in the state and to adjust our plan should it be necessary. Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work through our COVID-19 response together.


Dr. John VanWagoner
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools