By Jon King /

One local district has hit “pause” on a new quarantine plan recently introduced by the Livingston County Health Department (LCHD).

In a message Friday, Pinckney Community Schools (PCS) Superintendent Rick Todd said that due to a “variety of factors” he was not comfortable with the LCHD’s alternative quarantine program prompting him to put a "pause" on it. The plan allows for students who are identified as close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID to remain in school as long as they wear a mask, undergo a daily self-screening for symptoms, and take a COVID test at home each day during the quarantine period.

Todd said that the primary reason for pausing that plan was “the ability to manage this effectively and efficiently, both on the health department's end and on ours.” In the meantime, he says PCS will use the new Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) Quarantine Guidelines, which would allow students who have been identified as a close contact to re-enter school after 7 days, “given they are asymptomatic and can provide a negative test from a health provider.” Even then, those students would still be required to wear a mask for the remainder of their 10-day quarantine, “which at most would be 3 days of school.”

As an example, Todd said that the district’s football players who are asymptomatic and test negative on Sunday would still need to wear a mask on Monday as that would be their 10th day of quarantine. Pinckney had to forfeit their game this past Friday after a coach tested positive. Todd added that the “overall numbers for our district remain low and throughout the county, the cases for school-aged children have stabilized, although the numbers for adults age 19-30 continue to rise.”

As of Thursday,the district was reporting six cases in the previous week; three at Pinckney High School and three at Country Elementary, with 1.5% of the student body in quarantine. Todd reiterated that “the impact of covid has been low,” adding that while it could change, “for right now, we are feeling good about our plan and the course moving forward.” As for the county’s alternative strategy, Todd says that if the situation gets to a place in which he feels that it will not add an additional burden on their “already strapped staff,” he will reconsider their involvement.

Todd also addressed the general issue of masks in schools, noting “little variance between schools that have mandates and those that do not.” He says when they asked the health department about that during a meeting on Thursday, “their rationale for this is that a majority of cases are originating in the community and/or family setting and not in schools. Although there have been and will be transmissions in the school setting, this has not been a primary factor at this point and we will continue to watch and monitor every situation very closely as we move forward.”

Todd then used the message to recognize that the entire PCS staff “has been working extremely hard since school started and I couldn't be more proud of the job that everyone is doing as being an educator is an extremely challenging profession during "normal" times, but has been taken to another level given the demands that come about with covid.”

He then ended on an upbeat note by saying while “everyone will not see eye to eye with every decision we make, let our unity in being Pirates continue to give us the strength, energy and confidence we need to continue moving forward.”