By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

Several local schools have appeared on the state’s School Outbreak report, while officials in Howell are confident things are getting better and they can continue in-person learning.

In a letter (posted below) to families of students in Howell Public Schools, Superintendent Erin MacGregor states that two schools are appearing on this week’s Michigan Department of Health and Human Services School Outbreak Report. An outbreak in an educational setting is two or more cases linked by time and place. Howell High School will appear three times, affecting six students, with each instance being limited to the original case of a student testing positive and one additional case of another student that was linked. Hutchings Elementary also appears in the report for a case involving a staff member who tested positive, with 3 students who were identified as close contacts testing positive.

Superintendent MacGregor told the Board of Education on Monday, “Certainly (we) had a challenging and difficult few weeks after spring break. When it came to cases and quarantines, it was challenging. It was. I do think, with regards from what we’re seeing for our cases in the past week and a half, we are starting to see things decline in case numbers and quarantine numbers. So I hope that that’s a trajectory that we stay on.”

In his letter, MacGregor said they have consulted with the Livingston County Health Department and that they are comfortable with the district continuing in-person learning. The health department believes their contact tracing, quarantining, and mitigation strategies have been working correctly and that the risk for further transmission is low.

MacGregor also suggested that new guidance may be coming soon from the health department that allows them to redefine “close contact” in safe spaces as 3 feet - half of the current 6-foot distance. When this guidance becomes official, MacGregor said this could substantially reduce the number of students needing to be quarantined. That total number is unknown as HPS does not report that statistic, nor is required to.

Meanwhile, the district will continue to work in partnership with the local health department to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Also appearing on the outbreak list is Hartland High School with four students, two this week and two last week; Hartland Middle School at Ore Creek with two students last week; Navigator Elementary School in Pinckney with four students this week; Rosebrook Child Development Center in Brighton with three students this week and Brighton High School with two students last week.