By Jon King /

An outbreak of COVID cases has forced a local elementary school to switch to online learning for the next two weeks

In a letter sent Tuesday to parents of students at Hornung Elementary School in Brighton (posted below), Superintendent Matthew Outlaw informed them “as a result of the increase in COVID-19 cases among students at Hornung Elementary School over the past 10 days, all Hornung classes will shift to virtual learning for the next 14 days beginning on Wednesday, November 10th.”

Outlaw cited an unexplained rise in COVID-19 cases among students since October 30th and a recommendation by the Livingston County Health Department (LCHD) that there be a minimum 14 day “temporary pause in in-person instruction for the entire Hornung Elementary School to prevent additional exposure and cases.”

The Superintendent added that another factor was a “Disruption to the learning environment as a result of the exclusion of close contacts. Cases have not been isolated to an individual classroom or grade, so we are seeing student exclusions in numerous classrooms across the school. In addition to the challenges created for parents and staff, these exclusions have impacted the consistency and quality of the education being delivered to our students.”

Outlaw said that with the Thanksgiving break, students would not return to in-person learning until all district students are back in class on November 30th.

WHMI reported last week that at least two classrooms at Hornung Elementary and two at Maltby Intermediate were starting virtual learning after the LCHD reported “multiple positive COVID-19 cases among students” in different grades and classrooms.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on Monday listed Hornung Elementary on its school outbreak list with 14 confirmed cases among staff and students. However, those numbers are based of the previous week’s tally and it is likely additional cases have been reported since then. Two other Brighton schools were on the outbreak list; Hawkins Elementary with four confirmed student cases and Maltby Intermediate School with five confirmed student cases.

Also on the list was Fowlerville Jr. High School with eight student cases and Navigator Upper Elementary in Pinckney with ten student cases.

One local school that was not on this week's official MDHHS list, but still considered to be the site of an outbreak, is Farms Intermediate School in Hartland. According to a letter sent home Monday (posted below), the Livingston County Health Department "has identified multiple related positive COVID-19 cases at Farms Intermediate and thus considered Farms Intermediate to be the site of an outbreak." As a result, all 5th and 6th-grade students and all Farms Intermediate staff are required to wear masks at school through Tuesday, November 23rd.

Despite that, the letter stated that "Quarantining within the school setting is suspended during this time (beginning 11/9)." This is in accordance with a new policy announced last week in which students identified as close contacts of confirmed cases would no longer need to remain at home, as long as they were asymptomatic and had not tested positive for COVID, nor anyone in their household had tested positive.

The letter went on to say that "Unfortunately, those who were quarantined on 11/8 or before, must abide to the quarantine option offered by MDHSS. The new guidelines above do not apply to those students already in quarantine (or quarantined today)."