By Tom Tolen & Jon King /

There will continue to be student quarantines in the Brighton Area Schools - at least for the time being. The Board of Education, meeting in regular session Monday night, debated a proposal by Trustee Bill Trombley to dispense with student quarantines.

Both Trombley and Trustee John Conely stated that quarantines are detrimental to the education of students because they say it forces those who may or may not have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home for 14 days without getting the benefit of classroom instruction.

Despite statistics indicating that the rate of COVID infection in Michigan is highest among school-aged children, several parents spoke out against the quarantine policy, with many stating there had been no order from the Livingston County Health Dept. regarding quarantining, and that such a practice was up to individual districts.

Trombley later introduced a motion that the district discontinue the practice of quarantining students who had been identified as being exposed to the coronavirus in school. To the sound of robust applause from the audience, Board President Roger Myers said he believes that, in his words, “quarantining of healthy students is absolutely wrong.” Myers continued by saying, “There’s no correlation between the desired results and the impact it has on students and the disruption of the everyday life and the impact on education.”

However, Myers said that to suddenly introduce a motion to stop the practice — without putting it on the agenda for a future meeting or referring it to a committee for review — was contrary to district practice. Myers said, in his words, “I’ve got two problems with this motion…one is procedural and one is substantive…When we are going to be discussing an issue of this magnitude, this needs to come through the proper channels.”

Myers explained that, in his words, “I think the quarantining policies that the health dept. has implemented are ridiculous, but…I’m not the judge, jury and executioner.”

Supt. Matt Outlaw says Brighton issues quarantines on the recommendation of the Health Dept., and until recently, quarantines were a function of that dept. “and that’s what we’ve lived under for the past 19 1/2 months of the pandemic,” he said. Outlaw added, quoting, “Where we’re at right now, as I understand it….is that the Health Dept. is strongly recommending that as of today we implement quarantines, and it’s our responsibility to exclude students, based on that recommendation.” Outlaw said the responsibility until last May was that of the state, but then it changed, and became more local.

Ultimately, the vote to discontinue quarantining students was 5-2 against the motion, with Trombley and Conley the only ones in support, leaving the practice in place for the time being. However, it was clear that the issue would be discussed and brought up for a vote at a future meeting.