Schools not required to share information about COVID infections

Recommendations from the state only "strongly recommend" informing parents about COVID-19 outbreaks at their children's schools.

Schools in Michigan are not required to inform their communities or even families of their students about COVID-19 infections at their schools.

As Kalamazoo County schools get ready to begin the fall semester, news has emerged of 14 school-related outbreaks around Michigan. So far, state officials have declined to identify where those outbreaks are located.

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A spokesperson from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) told Bridge Magazine that the affected schools would inform parents, but it appears that action is left up to the discretion of individual school districts.

According to the governor’s MI Safe Schools plan, “families should be notified of the presence of any laboratory positive or clinically diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the classroom and/or school.”

However, that item is only “Strongly Recommended” and not required.

At the moment, parents of students at Kalamazoo’s largest school district, Kalamazoo Public Schools, can rest easy – KPS is offering classes remotely for the first twelve weeks of school. Comstock and Mattawan schools will also begin the school year with online classes.

Every other district in the county plans to begin the year with some amount of in-person learning. There is no indication on the districts’ websites of whether they intend to inform families or members of the community about COVID-19 infections in their schools.

Tina Kerr is the executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators. She told Bridge Magazine that schools are meant to work with local health departments to determine who should be informed about an outbreak. That could include just individuals from a single classroom all the way up to informing the entire community.

You can read more at Bridge Magazine.

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