Attendance decline causes some Livingston County schools to go virtual

Posted at 8:36 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 20:36:37-05

BRIGHTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — Several school districts in Livingston County canceled classes Friday because of absent staff and students. COVID-19 has been partly blamed.

On its website, the county health department states a 24% spike in COVID-19 cases from November to early January is “likely from large holiday gatherings.”

A letter emailed on Thursday by Brighton Area Schools Superintendent Matthew Outlaw states about 25% of students at Scranton Middle School have been absent in recent days for various reasons. That includes 18 positive cases of COVID-19 last week. That school will temporarily going virtual.

Christina Kafkakis, a parent of four in Brighton schools student said, “I can’t say we didn’t see this coming because we expected this.”

She has children in Scranton, which closed Friday due to a decline in attendance by students and staff, according to the district letter.

As Kafkakis said she expected, the school is going virtual from Jan. 18 to Jan. 28. She said one of her sons is among the 18 kids who came down with COVID-19.

“On Saturday morning, his symptoms started and within a day, he had a fever going from 99 to 103.5. He’s vaxxed, fully vaxxed," she explained.

She said her children have masked up since day one and she wishes the district or the county health department would put a mask mandate in place.

“When they talked about the return-to-school plan this year, we had talked about how last year, we had masking and we had more distance and things like that. The concern from parents like me was that they changed the plan but were still comparing it to last year’s plan and were expecting the same kind of result," Kafkakis said.

“I think we’re on the track for other schools too if they don’t change things," she continued.

The Brighton Area School district isn’t alone in attendance issues. Highlander Way Middle School in Howell also closed Friday because of staffing issues and will also be going virtual next week. Fowlerville Community Schools closed Friday because of staffing shortages too, but they will be in-person Tuesday.

“If they really were concerned about keeping kids in school physically, then they should be looking at what kept kids in school last year," Kafkakis said.

Howell Public Schools and Brighton Area Schools haven't returned 7 Action News’ calls for comment. In the district letter, Brighton’s superintendent did say Scranton will return on Jan. 31 or possibly sooner if the numbers improve next week.

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