By Jon King /

Another Livingston County school has been forced to close due to COVID-related staffing shortages.

According to a message sent out Monday evening, Southwest Elementary School in Howell will be closed Tuesday due to what were described as “staffing constraints.” That follows news last week that multiple COVID clusters had been identified at both Southwest Elementary and Highlander Way Middle School by the Livingston County Health Department.

Highlander Way was forced to close in Friday and will be using online learning for the remainder of this week, as is Scranton Middle School in Brighton, which will do so for the next two weeks. Brighton Superintendent Matt Outlaw said the decision was made because "student attendance rates are hovering at 75% present and are expected to decline further during the next few school days,” while recent staff absences at Scranton have averaged 12-16% per day.

In addition, COVID-related staffing shortages forced Fowlerville Community Schools to close last Friday, although they are expected to return to in-person learning on Tuesday. Also, several schools in the Hartland Consolidated District, including Lakes and Creekside elementary schools and Farms Intermediate School, are requiring students to wear masks for the next two weeks.

Livingston County school districts have resisted putting across-the-board mask mandates into effect and instead have taken advantage of an alternate plan put forward by the Livingston County Health Department (LCHD) allowing students to avoid quarantine if they wear a mask, do not have any symptoms and take an at-home COVID test provided by the district.