By Jon King /

More than 1,000 students in the Hartland Consolidated Schools district are in COVID-19 quarantine.

That’s according to the latest weekly update letter from Superintendent Chuck Hughes, sent out on Wednesday. According to the letter, 1,055 students were being kept out of class since last week, roughly 20% of the district's more than 5,200 students. There are also 83 positive or probable cases of COVID-19 in the district.

Hughes told WHMI that it is worth noting that these latest numbers are a 14-day accumulation, as he was out of town last week and did not send out an update. In his letter, which is posted below, he told parents that a positive case doesn't necessarily mean a quarantine took place if the case was due to outside exposure and the student was not in school.

However, since the start of the school year, he says there have been four in-school transmission outbreaks resulting in a mandatory two-week mask mandate. One at Round Elementary occurred right when school started in August. The other two; at Village Elementary and Farms Intermediate, will expire Friday.

The MI Safe Start Map shows Livingston County in the high-risk category for COVID-19 with a 12% test positivity rate, which is above the 10% threshold, and 325.5 weekly cases per 100,000 people, more than triple the accepted threshold of 100.

Hughes says they meet weekly with the Livingston County Health Department (LCHD) and that with their support, the district has been able to institute an Alternate Exclusion program, which was formerly referred to as a Quarantine program, where parents can now pick up test kits at the Hartland Educational Support Service Center instead of driving to the health department offices in Howell.

As for the delay in contact tracing by the health department, he noted that is due to staffing issues, adding that it is an issue they are all experiencing. However, it has curtailed efforts to contact trace during the weekend and late into the evening.

“We ask for your patience in this process as the LCHD team is working as quickly as possible."