By Jessica Mathews /

A recent communication from the Livingston County Health Department regarding the quarantining of students from local schools was highlighted during the Livingston Educational Service Agency’s Board of Education meeting.

At a virtual meeting of the LESA board, Superintendent Mike Hubert provided an update, saying the Health Department issued an update letter related to requirements for when a student needed to be excluded from school. Hubert said previously for contact tracing in school systems, if a student was exposed within 6 feet or 15 minutes that would result in an order to quarantine that student - meaning they cannot come in to the school building.

The rules just changed this week, which Hubert said allows for a similar approach but in a range of 3 to 6 feet. He said if that’s the range of the exposure for that period of time, as long as a student is not experiencing symptoms, then they can come in to school.

Hubert clarified that’s in the classroom and on the bus but it’s not applicable to all other aspects of the school the way the Health Department has written it. However, he told the board it is an important change and signals a positive aspect in that it doesn’t force exclusion from school when there are those exposures. Hubert said it shows their resiliency and ability because as the Health Department looked at the data, they weren’t seeing transmission within the schools that warranted students having to be excluded.

Hubert complimented the local Health Department for being observant with the local data and being willing to risk a change in that regard. He noted that it is up to each district as to how they want to approach things but the schools he’s been in conversations with have embraced the change. Hubert said further, districts were able to apply the guidance retroactively so students who were currently in quarantine and met the new criteria were allowed to come back to school.

The guidance from the Heath Department notes that the adapted mitigation measures do not apply to staff identified as close contacts. It states the requirements of school employees to isolate or quarantine are not impacted by the change and remain in effect pursuant to state law. The guidance further clarifies that the adapted measures can be paused at the discretion of the Health Department due to heightened public health concerns such as the identification of variants of concern or identification of an outbreak.

The document from the Health Department is attached.