Watson in Americus

Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson speaks to the USD 251 Board of Education Wednesday evening in Americus.

The USD 251 North Lyon County School District was awarded the Kansans Can Star Recognition Commissioner’s Award from Commissioner of Education Randy Watson, Wednesday evening.

Watson presented the award to the Board of Education, stating beat its state-predicted postsecondary effectiveness risk factors that have been known to affect student success rates, such as poverty, chronic absenteeism and student mobility.

He said only 40 districts across the state had earned the award.

“You need to [toot] your own horn,” Watson said. “This is a big deal. Your staff, your teachers — this was a lot of hard work.”

COVID update

Superintendent Robert Blair said that while a handful of students had been quarantined, so far, the district had not reported any positive cases of COVID-19.

Blair commended district staff and students for a high level of cooperation in following guidelines in keeping those numbers low so far. He felt the district had a good plan in place in case a staff member tested positive.

“I think in our plan if we can isolate where that person was, we can do some deep cleaning where that person was, we can stay in school,” he said.

Blair said the practice of mask-wearing and daily temperature checks was helping to mitigate the spread and keep students safe.

Board Member Tammie Reed questioned whether or not the practice of temperature checks thermometer would have a lasting psychological effect on children, comparing the use of no-contact infrared thermometers to pointing a gun to a child’s head.

“Do we, as a board, understand that we are taking a gun-shaped object and pointing it at every child that we have been entrusted to us every day?” she said. “It is a gun-like object that is being pointed at each one of their heads. It takes 21 days — good or bad — it takes 21 days to make a habit and that’s what we’re doing to the children.”

Reed said she had done a lot of research on pointing infrared thermometers on different points of the body instead of the head.

Blair said the district was earmarked for $400,000 in SPARK funding. Much of that he expected to be spent on personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and things of that nature. Part of the funding could go toward different temperature-scanning tools.

Reed questioned whether or not that expense was warranted if the district had not had recorded any high temperatures yet.

“I’m not making this stuff up,” Reed said. “Why are we doing this? Is it just because someone is telling us we have to? I’m just laying out questions and I would appreciate some conversation about it, but we are going to be held responsible for this as well.”

Board President Matt Horton said while he was not disputing any figures that Reed had found, he felt it was important to take into consideration the feelings of the district’s faculty and staff. USD 251 had many staff members express concerns over safety during negotiations prior to the start of the school year and several staff members resigned over health concerns.

Reed asked again if that justified pointing a gun-shaped object at a child’s forehead. She said children may not be old enough to know that it was a thermometer.

Horton said it was ultimately important for the district to follow public health guidelines in order to keep kids in the classroom.

The board also:

Approved a recommendation to opt out of President Trump’s tax deferral program for the remainder of 2020.

Approved a real estate purchase after discussions in executive session.

(14) comments


Vmae39, You have absolutely no idea how much I’m looking forward to that. Why would I not want to be part of what might be the greatest Christmas gift the medical community could ever give us? With any luck, Christmas just might come early this year.


Why no masks?


Infrared thermometers don’t emit radiation into the brain, they sense heat emitted by the body. They pose NO RISK to the pineal gland, which is located deep within the brain, according to Dr. Harris Sair, director of neuroradiology at Johns Hopkins University. Maybe your district needs to invest in some more science classes?


And you have seen scientific evidenced based research of studies that have been conducted on children having temperatures taken every school day for a whole year? Again you can rely on medical professionals opinions but they are that, this is something new never before done. Alot of times there are even differing opinions within the medical community. FDA approves drugs for patients, only to find out a year or years later they pose more of a risk or danger than they knew of. Again this is uncharted territory.


Yeah…..and cell phones were supposed to cause brain cancer but I bet that never kept you from using yours. Today’s parents hand their cell phones to toddlers to play apps on their phones. As someone said, we don’t have years to test everything in a pandemic. We still need to do what the medical community advises. At least they’re making EDUCATED guesses.


You do what the “medical community” advises and make sure you are a first in line to test the vaccine!!


They are as per Kansas State school board reopening guidelines. "Local school boards can adopt them in whole, in part, or not at all, and can decide when and how to reopen their buildings." Mrs Reed was just discussing with fellow board members. True we do not have years to test, but we also don't have to blindly follow.


Yes Congrats! I also support Mrs. Reed's questions concerning temperatures being taken. We should be having discussions and not just blindly relying on what is being told for us to do by the CDC, KSDHE. My question is what is the average temperature of a covid positive patient? Screenings allow for temperatures below 100.4 to pass as I understand it. Yet how many people have a temp below this yet are positive? How many positive patients are not running temperatures at all? I agree it's not fool proof, but then again why is it being done and relied up on? And a good point in today's society what if a child brought a toy gun or temperature gun and began play shooting kids with it, what would happen? Probably consequences, we are in a new day and time with many unknowns including what are future consequences to daily temperature taken on penal gland of children. Questions are not bad being raised and one should not be belittled or chastised for it, that is what is expected of responsible board members. Thank you Mrs Reed and all board members for your work!




There isn't a problem with Ms. Reed asking questions. There is a tremendous problem with Ms. Reed dismissing recommendations and opinions of educated and experienced experts in virology and epidemiology. Her role is to make educational policy in her district. She should stop second-guessing scientists.

The important element of this story, however, is the success their district has experienced. It's a shame that the politicization of a medical situation is taking attention from the success of the faculty there.


I listened to board meeting online I didn't hear her dismissing recommendations as you stated, they are "opinions" of experts, she wasn't second-guessing, she was questioning asking for a discussion from other members. Seems like it ended well with superintendent saying he would check with nurse about it.


Board members need to be asking questions about mask and temperature checks. Every month something can change. Kids mask up all day and still have to be 6 feet apart. There is scientific data about infrared and being pointed at the pineal gland. Let’s evaluate our options every month and not just go off of what Emporia or Council Grove is recommending. School districts can decide their own rules!! Mrs. Reed at least questions covid recommendations every month and does not just bow down and accepts one set of rules for the new norm!


Congratulations to the staff and faculty of 251 for this recognition from the State Commissioner. Well done--keep it up!


Students mimic the adults in their lives. When teachers and other adults practice good COVID19 procedures, the students accept those practices. We are months into a world-wide pandemic. Students have seen masks. They’ve seen thermometers. Mrs. Reed needs to separate her own personal (political) COVID convictions from district business and rely on the mandates of medical professionals to keep all students and USD251 employees safe.

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