SAGINAW, MI – Saginaw Public Schools will have a helping hand in dealing with COVID-19 in the coming year – courtesy of two CDC ‘liaisons’ that will handle the district’s testing and contact tracing, Superintendent Ramont Roberts announced at the district’s Wednesday, Jan. 12 Board of Education meeting.
Two CDC liaisons and one from the Saginaw County Health Department will join the district to assume responsibility over COVID-19 related matters such as contact tracing, rapid testing and other procedures, working with nurses and district staff so non-medical school personnel will no longer be responsible for handling them, Roberts said. The CDC liaisons will stay with the district through July and the health department liaison will stay through December, he said.
The liaisons will work with the entire district, Roberts said. The district is working on finding them office space that will allow them to access all of its buildings.
“This has been something that has placed a large burden on our entire staff and students as well,” Roberts said. “To have some additional help to deal with some of the implications that come from COVID-19 is extremely helpful.”
Roberts discussed the liaisons while presenting the district’s updated COVID-19 procedures for the spring semester. While the district will maintain a masking requirement and other preventive measures in the face of Michigan’s worst-ever case spike, new guidance from the CDC and health department shortens exposure quarantines from 10 to five days.
An implication of the new rules is that if an exposed individual “can’t quarantine,” they must instead wear a mask for 10 days, Roberts said. Since the district already requires masking, this effectively eliminates the district’s ability to require asymptomatic students or staff to quarantine as long as they say they cannot, he said.
“That has a number of implications for both our employees within the district and also our students,” Roberts said.
Despite these changes, Roberts said he’s no more concerned than he’s been since the beginning of the pandemic. He’s always responsible for the health and well-being of his staff and students, he said, and he’ll continue to follow the advice of medical professionals in fighting COVID-19.
“What I’ll do is just trust the recommendations and guidance of the experts and professionals,” Roberts said. “That’s what the individuals at the CDC and Saginaw County Health Department are paid to do. They’re trained well, and I’m going to listen to them.”