Mass quarantine best way to avoid another shutdown, Johnson County health director says

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OLATHE, Kan. — Some parents are not happy after a Blue Valley elementary school issued a quarantine of 100 students and teachers. However, public health experts say the quarantine is necessary.

Disease investigators learned that someone at Timber Creek Elementary school tested positive for COVID-19.

If we are going to keep schools open, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said those who have come into close contact with an infected student or teacher must go through 14 days of quarantine.

As a result, contact tracers have identified 100 students and adults that they saud should stay home for the next two weeks.

Some parents protested over the weekend, calling the quarantine an over-reaction. However, the county’s health director said if there’s no quarantine, the virus could spread through the entire school, leading to another shutdown or stay-at-home order.

“We have had to do the same thing across many schools, in many districts,” Dr. Sanmi Areola, the county’s health director, said.

“We have done it in private schools, and we have had tremendous cooperation. That’s what we are continuing to hope that we will get, short of the other tools we used to have, like shelter-in-place, we don’t want to go back to that. Our tool right now, one of the basic tools, is the ability to quarantine. In this case, it really is about missing in-person classes for a couple of days.”

Blue Valley elementary kids are still in the hybrid learning mode, meaning they only have in-person classes a couple of days a week.

Dr. Areola said a negative COVID-19 test won’t get kids back into the classroom sooner. He said they must complete the 14 days of quarantine.

He also said Johnson County continues to have a high COVID-19 infection rate, with more than 100 new cases a day.

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