Kids Are Given No Choice But To Quarantine And Fall Behind

Parents from Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania are in an uproar because their children are facing mandatory quarantines without virtual learning options. Many parents are weary after 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 have been exposed to a COVID-positive student. Jennifer Smith, a mother with three children in the district, said that there are no virtual learning options for children placed in mandatory quarantine.

On Nov. 1, Brighton Area Schools announced that they had waived mandatory quarantines for most middle and high school students, but not for students in grades six and below. The district’s plan on 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 leave it to parents to decide whether their child wears a face mask or not, according to district policy, however, mandatory quarantines for healthy children who have been exposed are still in place.

Smith said 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 decision was based on advice from the Livingston County Health Department.

According to a Livingston County Health Department official, school districts ultimately make their own rules regarding quarantine, testing, and masking policies.

The Michigan mother said that her son was under mandatory quarantine 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.”

Parents nationwide are concerned about learning losses, and also about the effects learning loss will have on students of lower socioeconomic status.

Data from 2020 indicates that schools are not driving infections and school closures or learning losses are affecting 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 study from Oct. 2020 found that schools are not driving the infection rate.

Other places have also put mandatory quarantines in place for exposed students, according to another mother in the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) in Arizona.

According to CUSD’s COVID policy, student quarantining 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.

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