By Mike Kruzman /

A local school district is aiming to hire a health officer to help through the pandemic school year and potentially beyond.

The Howell Public Schools Board of Education, Monday night, gave unanimous approval to Superintendent Erin MacGregor to pursue adding a nurse, or health and safety officer, to the district’s roster. MacGregor explained to the board that someone with higher levels of expertise in medical matters, particularly in these times, would be a good asset. He said over the past 6 weeks as they prepared for, and launched the new school year, that he and his staff have found themselves in a lot of conversations involving medical questions and health care related issues that they don’t have all the expertise on. While they’ve been leaning on the Livingston County Health Department, he said what he’d like to do is build that capacity within the district and then have that person be able to work with a liaison from the health department to ask all the questions that need to be asked from a health care perspective.

MacGregor said that it could be argued that this was needed pre-COVID-19, and now only more so. He wrote in a memo to the board, that several years ago district nurses were a common resource, but as demands on budgets have grown, those positions have been reduced or eliminated.

MacGregor has been in early talks with John O’Malley, the president of St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Brighton, about needs and a possible partnership. The anticipated cost of the position is $75,000. MacGregor told the board he sees this as a value add, knowing the budget is “extremely tight.”

The superintendent will continue working with the district’s Human Resources Department to draft a detailed job description to be brought to the board.