Reduced Quarantine Period Means Some Students Are Returning to School Wednesday

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The advocacy of Saline Area Schools nurse Karan Hervey is being credited for health department changes that should ease the burdens of quarantined students and their families.

During his update on the COVID-19 concerns at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, Interim Superintendent Dr. Steve Laatsch said the health department has agreed to reduce the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days.

That's important to a district trying to maintain operations during a pandemic. Last week, the district had 199 students and staff out of school on quarantine. That's the highest number since in-person instruction resumed last fall. That number fell to 185 this week - before the health department agreed to change the policy Tuesday afternoon.

"The great news today is after Karen's advocacy, Ruth Kraut from Washtenaw County Health Department announced we're moving back into the 10-day quarantine phase," Laatsch said. "Automatically that meant a lot of our families and students got a phone call today saying your child's eligible to come back to school tomorrow, which is great news."

Earlier this spring, as cases and positivity rose, the health department decided to increase the quarantine period to 14 days, Laatsch said. While educators understood the need to reduce risk, they also saw it came with a burden for children, families and educators.

"That's really challenging for families and students. Fourteen days is I think a difference because it often means you're bypassing a couple of the weekends and that's often two full weeks of school that students are potentially out," Laatsch said.

Entire classrooms were being quarantined for two weeks at a time in the elementary schools. Quarantining was deemed a reality of the return to more in-person instruction.

According to Laatch, Hervey, noting a decline in spread of COVID-19, advocated for reducing the quarantine period so that it was in line with DC guidance.

"I can't say enough about how terrific Karan has been with this process. She was Michigan School Nurse of the Year for a reason and she continues to amaze with her efforts all of this year," Laatsch said.

According to Laatsch, on April 23, the district tested 600 student-athletes and had zero positive cases. There has still been no in-school spread in the district.

Laatsch said the district is encouraging students 16 and older to attend a vaccination clinic at Huron High School from 3-7 p.m., April 29. Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. He said the district is working with the health department to offer a vaccination clinic at Saline High School in the next few weeks.

There are no changes to the district's COVID-19 learning plans. 

Laatsch said decisions are still being made about how to hold prom and graduation.

Prom is scheduled for May 22 at Hornet Stadium. Graduation is scheduled for June.

The district continues to make plans for summer offerings to help students who need additional academic support. The district plans to return to five-day-a-week in-person instruction in 2021-22.

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