Vaccinations, masks, other guidance recommended for Johnson County schools ahead of 2021-2022 academic year

Tracking Coronavirus

FILE – In this May 18, 2021 file photo, fifth graders wear face masks are seated at proper social distancing spacing during a music class at the Milton Elementary School in Rye, N.Y. As more children go back to the physical classroom, families are expected to spend robustly on a wide range of items, particularly trendy clothing for the critical back-to-school season, according to one key spending measure. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

OLATHE, Kan. — The Johnson County Health Department finalized updated guidance concerning COVID-19 ahead of the upcoming school year.

A school board member provided FOX4 with a letter sent to superintendents and school board members, the health department said it made the recommendations in an effort to keep students in classrooms for in-person learning for the entire school year.

The health department said the guidance is consistent with that from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Johnson County’s plan takes a four-pronged approach to fight COVID-19 and prevent it from spreading. Steps includes:

  • Promoting vaccination
  • Requiring anyone who is not fully vaccinated to wear a masks indoors
  • Excluding people who have, or are suspected of having, COVID-19
  • Avoiding close contacts of anyone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19

The biggest impact will be to children under the age of 12, who are not eligible to receive a vaccine yet. Earlier this week experts said younger children may not be able to get vaccinated until later this year. Under the new guidance, the health department is recommending school boards implement a policy requiring people who are not fully vaccinated to wear masks indoors.

According to Johnson County’s health department, the Delta variant is the dominant strain in the county, and the variant is causing number outbreaks at summer camps and a jump in cases.

The health department said it’s making the recommendations because of the increase in COVID-19 cases, and that vaccinations have been widely available for months. It also points to data that shows wearing masks prevents COVID-19 and other illnesses from spreading.

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