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Mother and child during the COVID-19 pandemic. | Wikimedia Commons
Mother and child during the COVID-19 pan­demic. | Wiki­media Commons

Parents in the com­munity are con­testing Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Com­munity Health Agency’s mandatory COVID-19 school contact tracing.

On Sept. 3, the agency issued an order that man­dates quar­antine for those exposed to COVID-19 in Branch, Hillsdale and St. Joseph counties. This order applies to indi­viduals who reside, attend school, or are employed within the afore­men­tioned counties.

On Sept. 10, Com­munity Health Agency Officer Rebecca Burns updated the mandate to exclude masked stu­dents from quar­an­tining, but in the health agency’s board meeting Sept. 23, parents still spoke out against the mandate.

Derek Shaw, parent of stu­dents in the Bronson Com­munity School dis­trict, said the contact tracing policy is unnec­essary and aca­d­e­m­i­cally unproductive.

“Per my super­in­tendent Mr. Steve Wilson, less than three-quarters of 1% of healthy kids forced into quar­antine ever developed symptoms or tested pos­itive for COVID-19, yet they were forced into a virtual learning system that has been a com­plete failure,” Shaw said.

Cold­water High School Vol­leyball Coach Kelsey Closson said the quar­an­tines have been chal­lenging for the vol­leyball team.

“We have had mul­tiple girls quar­an­tined three times already,” Closson said. “They have only been in school eight days this year.”

Dr. Lauren Vogel, BHSJ medical officer, said the agency is trying to reduce the spread of the virus.

“The problem is if the kids get sick, they don’t nec­es­sarily have a bad outcome, but if they take it home to granny … it might have a bad outcome,” Vogel said.

Burns said the quar­antine order will remain in effect until the state is below an 8% COVID-19 trans­mission rate, according to the Hillsdale Daily News. 

Vogel pre­vi­ously said the mandate didn’t have a spec­ified end. 

“Until we have control of the emerging numbers of infec­tions, there’s no date in sight,” he told The Col­legian earlier this month.

There is not much data about the virus at the county level, but overall, the virus has a 98% sur­vival rate in the United States as of Sept. 27, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the Hillsdale Daily News, Hillsdale parent Jen­nifer Wagner said there is more harm in keeping children out of school than spreading COVID-19.

“We must live with risks,” Wagner said.