OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — So far, the COVID-19 cases among students and staff in Kansas City metro school districts have been traced back to spread outside of the school.
There haven’t been any outbreaks in school, and school districts are doing everything they can to prevent that from happening.
“Those of us in education agreed that the best place for our students to be is in the classroom,” Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools spokesperson Edwin Birch said.
In Kansas, it’s a mandate by the State Legislature that students must be in-person in school this year. There’s no more remote learning. So school districts are following protocols set by county health departments to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Besides masking, social distancing, cleaning and air filtration, Shawnee Mission School District is offering testing.
“We test when we have anybody, either student, staff or family member, who believes they’ve been exposed or is experiencing symptoms. We probably test at least 100 a day,” said David Smith, spokesman for Shawnee Mission schools.
Schools are a reflection of the community, and KCK Public Schools is adding vaccination events to its mitigation efforts this school year.
“Health professionals can’t do it by themselves,” Birch said. “We all have to work together to help mitigate the spread of this virus, and we have to keep our kids in school. That’s the best place for them to be right now.”
The percent positive rate in schools is well below that of the counties.
Of the 30,000 students and staff in the Shawnee Mission School District, 96 are excluded from school because of testing positive for COVID-19. That’s a fraction of 1% and well below Johnson County’s positivity rate of 11%.
It’s a similar story in KCK Public Schools. Of the 26,000 students and staff, there are currently 110 positive cases. It’s a fraction of 1% while Wyandotte County is sitting at just over 14% positivity rate.
KCK Public Schools has 274 students and staff in quarantine, which could quickly become a problem staffing the schools.
“Right now we are still filling them. We are able to do that with substitutes, but yeah, it’s a challenge,” Birch said. “I mean, this is a real thing.”
Shawnee Mission School District has its COVID information on its website and next week KCK Public Schools is launching its own COVID-19 tracker to be more transparent about what is going on inside the district.