ALMONT — Almont Schools Supt. Dr. William Kalmar said Lapeer County school superintendents have been working with the Lapeer County Health Department to establish “sensible changes” for COVID-19 mitigation in the county’s schools.
Those changes effect contact tracing and reducing the duration of quarantines for students who have been exposed to the virus.
Kalmar said schools’ superintendents met on May 10 with Health Dept. officials for the purpose of understanding and implementing updated COVID guidelines.
He noted that since the outbreak of the virus, Lapeer County schools have kept detailed records of COVID-19 cases and exposures involving students and school employees.
“The worst period of time for our pandemic experience was between March 1 and May 10, when we had 665 students (some multiple times) and employees quarantined,” Kalmar said.
“Of those 665 people, less than 1% developed COVID,” he continued. “If we include all the cases of quarantines since October 2020, that number would be even smaller.”
He said recent testing has resulted in “miniscule” numbers of COVID cases among students.
“We are a month into spring athletic ‘antigen testing’ and we’ve conducted more than 900 tests on our students,” he said. “Of those 900 tests, only .04% have resulted in a positive COVID-19 test.”
Kalmar said Almont’s test results have been consistent with students in Imlay City, Dryden, North Branch and Lapeer.
“Based on the data collected at schools countywide, we can state emphatically that our schools have not been, and continue not to be, a significant source for the spread of COVID in our community.”
In light of the favorable statistics, Kalmar said the district is changing its current contact tracing rules and the duration of student quarantines for exposure.
•The definition of “close proximity” will be reduced from six feet to three feet for a cumulative 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.
•Student and staff quarantines will be reduced to 10 days from the previous standard of 14 days.
Kalmar said the changes will help reduce “collateral damage” resulting from sweeping quarantines, while still taking a reasonable approach to balancing safety and providing opportunities for students.
“As we reduce the mitigations at our schools, we hope to demonstrate that even less restrictive measures can be successfully implemented across the district in coming weeks,” Kalmar said.
He added that future decisions regarding COVID-19 protocol will be based on a collaboration with the Lapeer County Health Department, other Lapeer County school districts, state and national recommendations, and local conditions in Almont Community Schools.
Others follow suit
Last week, the St. Clair County Health Department announced they would also ease restrictions for schools in a similar fashion.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.