Overland Park styling school student concerned for her safety, fellow classmates

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — As the number of reported COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the Kansas City metro, so do concerns in the workplace.

The requirements employers are made to follow when an employee tests positive aren’t easy to grasp, and the guidelines vary from state-to-state.

Students at Overland Park’s Paul Mitchell School, a trade school for future hairstylists, complained their employer is keeping secrets. Cameron Scharff recalled a phone conversation, during which, she and others learned that a fellow student had tested positive for coronavirus.

“She said yeah, I tested positive for COVID-19,” Scharff said. “We had high exposure to her and we should have been notified right away.”

Scharff is one of three students who reached out to FOX4 on Thursday, all of whom said Paul Mitchell School staff didn’t inform them of the student’s sickness.

Scharff said she’s concerned because students didn’t have an opportunity to take precautions to protect their own well-being.

Michelle Denham, the school’s managing director, said the school is following guidelines from the Johnson County Health Department. Denham, who said two students had tested positive, said the school notified its staff and students on Thursday morning, which falls within the county’s legal parameters.

Denham said the two cases were isolated, and the school didn’t try to cover up anything. Denham said no one else has tested positive, and the two ailing students haven’t been on campus since last Friday.

States are taking measures to protect employers. On Thursday, Missouri governor Mike Parson called on legislators to boost COVID-19 liability protection for employers.

In Kansas, business leaders pressed the Statehouse for similar provisions this summer, but the motion failed. They’re expect to pursue that against when the Kansas legislature meets again in January.

Elizabeth Holzschuh, an epidemiologist with the Johnson County Health Department, said when an employer is made aware of a positive case, they need to ensure nobody has close contact with the infected. Holzschuh recommends notifying everyone in the workplace to allow employees to protect themselves and to avoid rumors.

“It’s a smart business practice, quite frankly, for individuals who’ve been exposed to coronavirus to be able to be out of the office, whether they’re working from home or having that time off, so they don’t spread it to the other employees in the workplace,” Holzschuh said.

Scharff said she tested negative for COVID-19. However, she and other students feel they’re due an apology from their school staff.

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