Health Dept. Director Talks School Quarantines With Commissioners
November 23, 2021
By Mike Kruzman / email@example.com
The Director of the Livingston County Health Department gave a report on school quarantines and took questions from County Commissioners.
LCHD Director Dianne McCormick spoke to the Board of Commissioners during their hybrid meeting, Monday night. Comparing COVID cases, in schools, from the same time in 2020 to today showed an increase of greater than 7 times. It was later noted that the current ease of testing compared to last year could be a contributing factor to some extent. Still, the majority of cases are not from in-school transmissions.
Earlier in the fall, Livingston County’s Superintendent, along with the health department, developed a pilot program designed to keep more students in school and out of quarantines. Data from October showed little difference in transmission rates when being a “close contact” was redefined from 6 feet to 3 feet. In-school transmission was still under 3%. This, with other factors like the availability of vaccines for youths, helped school administrators decide to end quarantines earlier this month for students in grades 7-12 if they were healthy, showing no symptoms, and neither they or other household members had recently tested positive. Fowlerville Schools went a step further and extended that to all students in K-12. McCormick said that now that the vaccine is available for kids 5 and up, she anticipates additional considerations will be brought forward in the other districts. She confirmed that other Boards of Educations could do the same as Fowlerville’s, as even though they approved the program for grades 7-12, it was just guidance and a recommendation, not a mandate.
Board Chair Wes Nakagiri spoke to the frustration many parents have expressed when trying to get answers on which body is making the decisions. When parents are told by the schools to talk to the health department, and/or are then told by the health department that it is in the schools’ hands, Nakagiri called it “a government runaround that I am not happy with.” He said he applauds the attempt to get fewer kids quarantined, but wishes that more precise language could be used in communications to help lessen the confusion.