Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools changes quarantine policy; talks vaccination mandates

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Hundreds of students are quarantined across Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools.

According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, 110 students had COVID-19 the last week of August. Nearly three times as many, 320 students, were quarantined because of COVID-19 or close exposure to someone who tested positive for the virus.

As the district continues to juggle COVID-19 cases and keeping everyone as safe as possible, the district also announced it changed its quarantine policy.

During a special school board meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Anna Stubblefield said the district would be following a 10-day quarantine policy. Until now, anyone who was in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 had to quarantine 14 days.

“One of the adjustments that we have made recently, after collaborating with our local health department and talking to other school districts, we are probably the only district still requiring a 14 day quarantine when those symptoms are present,” Stubblefield said. “And so to be in alignment with other districts and also to have tests available we are adjusting our quarantine to 10 days some of those, we are starting to roll out.”

Stubblefield also addressed the possibility of requiring district employees to be vaccinated in the future. She pointed to the fact that the Unified Government of Wyandotte County mandated vaccines for employees. Those who aren’t vaccinated are required to be tested weekly.

“It would allow us to have better accountability around those things, Stubblefield said. “The weekly testing would let us know how the virus is spreading.”

Some board members say they support the idea of requiring vaccines in an effort to keep students and staff safe.

“We gotta do what we can to keep everyone safe and to keep them here. Teachers, students, staff, everybody,” Wanda Kay Paige, board member, said. “I know some people don’t like it, I get that. But our goal is to keep everyone safe and to make sure these kids get the best possible education they can possibly get. And to keep everyone safe. That’s the key. Whether you’re the nutritional worker, or the bus driver, whatever your job is, we want you safe. We want you here. I don’t think that is asking too much.”

Other board members disagreed. While they support requiring either the vaccine or weekly testing, they don’t believe a mandate is the answer.

“My concern is we’ve asked our teachers to do so much, in addition to they’ve worked when the vaccine was not available. They are voluntarily working with and without the vaccine. I’m not in support of mandating a vaccine for our staff. I believe it’s a personal choice,” said Dr. Stacy Yeager, board member.

The school district said it doesn’t know the percentage of teachers that are vaccinated because it hasn’t required teachers, or other employees, to provide their vaccination status yet.

The board plans to talk about any possible vaccination requirements at a future meeting or meetings.

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