By Chrissy Clark
Some parents from Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania told the Daily Caller that their children are forced to undergo mandatory quarantines with no virtual learning options, despite evidence that schools pose few transmission risks. Many parents expressed fatigue over the nearly two years of COVID-19 precautions in schools.
Brighton Area Schools, a district in suburban Detroit, is requiring students under the age of 12 to quarantine for 14 days if they are exposed to a COVID-positive student, according to a letter from the district’s superintendent obtained by the Daily Caller. Jennifer Smith, a mother with three children in the district, told the Daily Caller that there are no virtual learning options for children placed in mandatory quarantine.
On Nov. 1, Brighton Area Schools announced that they waived mandatory quarantines for most middle and high school students, though not for students in sixth grade or below. According to the district’s correspondence, deciding whether to waive quarantines for younger students will be contingent on “the availability of vaccines for the 5-11 year old population.”
Brighton Area Schools allow parents to choose whether their child wears a face mask or not, according to district policy, though mandatory quarantines for healthy children are still in place.
Smith told the Daily Caller that her nine-year-old child began a 28-day “healthy child quarantine” on Oct. 19. She received an email on Nov. 9 from Hornung Elementary School informing parents that all classes would go virtual on Nov. 10 due to “an unexplained rise in COVID-19 cases among students” following Halloween. The closure was suggested by the Livingston County Health Department.
According to a testimony from a Livingston County Health Department official, school districts make their own rules regarding quarantine, testing, and masking policies, though the county health department offers data and advice.
The Michigan mother said that her son went from Oct. 19 to Nov. 10 with no virtual school option, and was only offered virtual classes when the entire elementary school shut down. Smith said that she is “extremely upset” as she had “no choice” but to take off work and “go without pay.”
Brighton Area School District did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.
Parents nationwide told the Daily Caller that they are concerned about learning losses, and some are concerned about the effects learning loss will have on students of color or lower socio-economic status.
Data from 2020 bear out the points that schools are not driving infections and school closures or learning losses are disproportionately hurting minority students. A study of 4.4 million students found that test scores of black, Hispanic, and poor children took the biggest hit when students were not in school. A large study from Oct. 2020 found that schools aren’t large vectors of infection.
Mandatory quarantines — and their effects — are not specific to Michigan. Mother Nicole Eidson told the Daily Caller that quarantines are also taking place in the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) in Arizona.
According to CUSD’s COVID policy, quarantining students is “required by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health” when a student comes in “close contact” with a student who is COVID-positive. The district’s website states that quarantined students receive “Google classroom assignments and/or activities,” though Eidson noted that children do not receive any teacher instruction during quarantine.
“There may be schools or teachers that are still teaching the quarantined kids, but there are some that are not as well,” Eidson said.
Chandler Unified School District did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment. (RELATED: Arizona School Board, Police Coordinated To Spy On, Arrest Concerned Parents)
Guidelines for K-12 quarantines in some states specifically target those who are unvaccinated. Washington State’s Department of Health guidelines for K-12 schools states that quarantines are only for those who are unvaccinated. This includes 5-11 year olds who are now eligible for a vaccine under the FDA’s emergency use authorization.
Florida, under guidance from Gov. Ron DeSantis, took a different approach. Students are no longer required to quarantine if they’re exposed to COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, according to NPR.
Some school districts are moving towards “Test to Stay” programs, wherein students who come in close contact with a COVID-positive peer can get consecutively tested to remain in school. Souderton Area School District in Pennsylvania is set to implement the program on Nov. 29, according to a local news outlet.
Superintendent Frank Gallagher said he is hopeful that the “Test to Stay” program will allow “exposed students to stay in school instead of quarantining at home.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering promoting similar “Test to Stay” programs, according to U.S. News.