New health order prohibits Wyandotte County public schools from opening until after Labor Day

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A new order issued Monday prohibits public schools in Wyandotte County from opening in-person classes until after Labor Day.

The move comes in response to growing concerns about the safety of students and teachers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Allen Greiner, Wyandotte County’s Chief Medical Officer, issued the new health order to ensure educators have sufficient time to prepare for school re-opening.

This order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. July 28 and remains in effect until COVID-19
pandemic conditions in Wyandotte County are such as to warrant a change or modification.

The order is also in response to the dramatic increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases seen throughout the metro and safety concerns voiced by local leaders and parents.

“Last month, we worked closely with our local schools to start planning for the 2020-2021 school
year,” said Dr. Erin Corriveau, Deputy Medical Officer with the Unified Government’s Public
Health Department. “A committee of educators from schools across our County have
collaborated with public health experts to develop standards for each re-opening phase of our
schools, as part of the ReStart WyCo Plan. We are still fighting to curb the spread of COVID-19 in
our community, and we could find ourselves at different re-opening phases over the course of
the school year. This additional guidance will help our schools keep their students, faculty, and
staff as safe as possible, no matter what re-opening phase we are in.”

The new Health Order is an extension of previous guidance, and it applies to public schools
within Wyandotte County’s jurisdiction.

This includes:
• Bonner Springs/Edwardsville Unified School District (USD 204)
• Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (USD 500)
• Piper School District (USD 203)
• Turner Unified School District (USD 202)

“The decision to prohibit schools from opening to in-person classes until after September 7 was
not made lightly, as we know that in-person socialization plays an important role in the longerterm positive health impacts on individuals and our community as a whole,” Greiner said. “This order was issued to protect our children, young adults, teachers, and those populations most vulnerable to COVID-19 in Wyandotte County. This Order does not prohibit distance learning, so all schools may resume virtual classes as soon as they would like.”

This order mandates the following:

• All schoolchildren and educators must wear masks while inside and in outdoor groups at
all times. Masks must be worn outdoors when 6 feet distance cannot be maintained, otherwise, masks wearing may be temporarily relaxed.

• Hand sanitizer should be used by students and teachers several times daily

• Social distancing of at least 6 feet between children and educators should be maintained

• Cohorting should be ensured at every grade level, such that grades will be siloed with one or a small number of educator/supervisor during class sessions.

• The use of outdoor space as much as possible for coursework learning, physical education, music and singing is encouraged. Social distance of 6 feet or more must be maintained when outdoors. Masks must be worn outdoors when 6 ft. social distance cannot be maintained.

• Children should be cohorted, but they also must be physically spaced out throughout entire buildings/facilities/campuses so that schools achieve 50% less density of students in available spaces. Schools may use multiple methods to achieve 50% less density of students in the physical spaces they have available to them – This does not necessarily mean that there are half as many kids in attendance, rather it can be the same number of kids but spaced out into twice the total amount of space that would typically be utilized. This may be achieved creatively such as examples below, or other suggestions will be accepted as well:
a. 1st – 7th graders back to school full-time, 8th – 12th grade distance learning full-time; or
b. Children spaced within the school such that non-traditional spaces may be used as educational space such as gymnasiums, group rooms, band/singing rooms, etc.; or c. cohort A and B rotate days physically present at the school – i.e. every other day schooling
d. School districts in Wyandotte County will be required to submit their plan to comply with the health department for approval before implementation in the schools.

As of Monday afternoon, Wyandotte County has reported 4,095 positive cases of COVID-19 since the middle of March. There have been 92 reported deaths, according to the Wyandotte County Health Department. The health department reports 1,123 have recovered.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as a fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The majority of people recover.

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