MDHHS changes school quarantine guidance

Maggie Quinn '22, Julia Kado '24

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Throughout the past year, policy changes have stirred major controversies within the community. Recently, as the Omicron variant has created a surge, administrators, athletic trainers, and medical officials have been constantly rushing from classroom to classroom, brandishing yardsticks to ensure that students were sitting the appropriate six feet apart.

If not, students would check their inboxes to receive a “close contact email.” two weeks ago. The Grosse Pointe Public School System (GPPSS) chose to cease this practice of close contact tracing, along with halving the quarantine period, from 10 to five days.

“The Wayne County Health Department and the MDHHS changed their recommendations, so we didn’t pull the plug on anything,” superintendent Dr. Michael Jon Dean said. “We followed their recommendations 14 months ago (when in-person learning first started) and we’re following their recommendations now.”

Dean said he is referring to suggestions released Tuesday, January 11 by both the Michigan and Wayne County Health Departments.

“When medical doctors from the MDHHS and the Wayne County Health Department make recommendations, we have to recognize that they’re medical doctors, and listening to them and strongly considering what they recommend makes sense, right?” Dean said. “We’ve never been school leaders in a pandemic before, so listening to those experts makes sense to us.’

This change in contact tracing protocol comes as there is a record number of both students and staff within the district out on quarantine as of this week. This can prove to be a struggle for extracurriculars, academics, and sports. Joseph Drawbaugh ‘24 said he prefers this new policy.

“Being taken out of school at this point, or being close contacted…it’s just so much harder and it drops your grades down,” Drawbaugh said. “I am on the swim and dive team and so I think that having to miss practice for ten days is just a huge setback.”

For biology teacher James Adams, worrying has never been an issue. Talking about conversations with more ‘worrier-type’ friends he has, he often cites meeting common ground.

“You have to weigh all of the negatives with the positives, and you do your best to make a decision that you think is right for people,” Adams said. “ I think that, for the most part, makes sense to me… You can’t keep everyone perfectly safe, I wish we could.”

Overall, it is vital that to respect the decisions of our school district.

“You can’t keep everything perfect, that’s impossible,” Adams said. “But I think it’s better to keep students in school than not.”