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The USD 251 North Lyon County Board of Education met with Lyon County Public Health officials to discuss the possibility of shortening quarantine guidelines for the district during a special meeting, Wednesday night.

The meeting was called after Board President Matt Horton expressed frustration over the county’s continuing 14-day quarantine period, rather than adopting a shorter period introduced by the Centers for Disease Control in December, during the board’s regular meeting last week. At that time, Horton stated that it was important for the county to follow “the science” and questioned why Lyon County Public Health would choose to continue stricter protocols.

Joined by County Health Officer Dr. Ladun Oyenuga, Emergency Preparedness Director Jennifer Millbern, and the board’s legal counsel, board members explained why they felt that their small, rural school district could be held to a different standard than Emporia Public Schools — which is far larger.

“We’re a little different than Emporia or some of our urban areas, and we want to move ahead coming out of this, and possibly following the CDC guidelines,” Horton said. “The question is, can we at least have a transition timeframe into something like that?”

Oyenuga said there were a lot of factors that would come into play before public health would be able to issue a directive to move into a 10 day quarantine period, and even more for a seven-day quarantine to happen. Part of that process would be getting a greater portion of the county’s population vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’re talking about another couple of weeks, fingers crossed, hopefully,” she said, referencing the 10 day quarantine.

Millbern added that, with the county preparing to enter Phase 2 at the end of the week and opening up vaccinations to people ages 65 and older, was already a step in the right direction.

Horton asked about transmission rates in younger children and percent positives, noting that it did not seem that younger children were getting the virus. Millbern said that wasn’t necessarily the case, but rather they were contracting the virus and presenting symptoms differently than adults.

Board Member Tim Burton said it was his understanding that part of the reason the CDC shortened the quarantine time was because people weren’t complying with the 14 day quarantine times. Burton asked if it was better to test people after seven days and then allow them to go back to work or school if they tested negative.

Oyenuga said there was still a one in 10 chance that that individual would still end up testing positive. The test, Millbern added, is just a “snapshot in time.”

Millbern stressed that there is not enough known about the longterm effects of COVID-19 on children who have become ill with the virus. There have also been cases of children and other otherwise healthy younger people experiencing life-threatening complications from the virus, she said.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are,” Millbern said. “We have middle-aged, healthy adults having very huge health impacts because of it.”

Millbern said, as mothers, both she and Oyenuga understood the want to see mask guidelines lifted — especially for younger children. She said hope was on the horizon, but patience was needed in order to make sure the county stayed the course.

Horton thanked Oyenuga and Millbern for taking time to answer questions and give input on the matter.

Afterward, the board went into executive session for discussions with legal counsel. No action was taken.

(19) comments

Rationa1

How about that. I just looked at the "Top Commented" menu on this Gazette website. USD 251 has the three most-commented stories for these past few weeks. Not one of the stories shows them making good, thoughtful, considered decisions that meet the needs of their constituents. The residents of North Lyon County need to stand up and demand better of their elected school board and the USD 251 administration and staff.

out-thebox-side

Usd 251 has been one of the few districts that has made it through this school year without going remote. Why screw it up now?

Stupid school board.

Rationa1

At what cost have they avoided going remote? USD251 has better educators, staff, and students than the Bored of Education deserves.

out-thebox-side

Monetary costs? Probably none.

Emotional well-being of the children and staff? ENORMOUS

Rationa1

Future therapy expenses? Also enormous.

Rationa1

I am a little confused how our little sibling to the north, USD 251, believes its Bored of Education members have a better grip on the science than the trained medical professionals at Lyon County Health. As my kids say, it's better to stay in your lane. Let the trained public health professionals take care of public health, and let the trained education board take care of education.

user75

I don't believe anyone said they have a better grip on science on this, just asking questions as I would hope they would. This is an ever changing and fluent situation as we have seen so it is important to ask questions. I don't think really anyone including CDC as the science down on this virus, but that's just my healthcare worker opinion

Per CDC website : Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to quarantine by reducing the time they cannot work. A shorter quarantine period also can lessen stress on the public health system, especially when new infections are rapidly rising. Your local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last, based on local conditions and needs. Follow the recommendations of your local public health department if you need to quarantine.CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days and recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus. CDC will continue to evaluate new information and update recommendations as needed.

Rationa1

When Board President Matt Horton says the county health officials aren't following the science and questions their protocols, 75, he implies his understanding of public health science (which is a much broader field of study than COVID-19 research or even immunology) is greater than that of the county health officials. If his credentials include, say, graduate degrees in Public Health, Virology, and/ or Immunology, I'll accept that he may be better qualified than the county's public health staff. Until then, he should stand down and follow their expert advice. He's not asking questions, he's challenging the decisions without having the knowledge-base to throw down.

Per 75's quote of the CDC website: "Your local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last, based on local conditions and needs. Follow the recommendations of your local public health department...." I repeat, our little brother to the north needs to stay in his lane.

out-thebox-side

The district may be little, but the board president is quite large and so is his ego and “perceived knowledge”

Vmae39

Look at the Science... people are not getting sick from having to quarantine because they were in a large group and one person was sick. Example basketball team.. one person is sick so the whole team quarantined for 14 days. No other person is sick. Most spread is from gatherings such as families.

user75

Yes it is your public health authorities that make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last, they do have ability to shorten it. I see neighboring counties Osage and Coffey just to name some and also Shawnee and Johnson have shorter quarantine protocols.....many differing opinions in public health departments I suppose.

Rationa1

And if Coffey, Johnson, Osage, and Shawnee Counties have shorter quarantine periods *directed by their public health officers rather than their commissions* then their school districts should follow those recommendations, 75. I wonder how many of those shorter periods are the commissions overriding their public health officers. Also, if Matt Horton, Tammy Reed, Gary Heine, and the rest are so eager to see shorter quarantine periods, let them move to Coffey or Johnson County. If Bored President Horton understands the situation so much better than Dr. Oyenuga, Box-Side, he should have applied for her job when it was open. When this is the quality of leadership in 251, I despair for the education of their children.

user75

The shorter period quarantining times are per those county's health departments, not their school districts, I am not sure what their school districts are following I assume it is their public health guidelines since they are shortened from the 14 days. I am unaware if their county commissioners had input in shortening them or not.

Vmae39

Why would people be rushing to get vaccinated? Even after getting the complete series you still have to wear a mask, you still have to quarantine if exposed and if family member gets covid. They should get out of quarantine after 10 days if having no symptoms. Why isn’t Lyon county following CDC guidelines?

less testing =less quarantine.

Rationa1

Maybe people should get vaccinated because it protects them, their friends and family, and the vulnerable in society with whom they come into contact in their daily lives. Maybe people should get vaccinated because it is the ethical and moral thing to do. Maybe people should get vaccinated because the faster we get 75-80% of our population vaccinated, the faster we can resume the lifestyles to which we were accustomed and have been interrupted by this pandemic. Should people be rushing for the vaccines? Yes. Undoubtedly.

user75

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and their choice of taking the vaccine or not.

Rationa1

You're moving the goalposts, 75. 39's question was why people ought to rush for the vaccine. The answer is because it is an ethically good thing to do. Are people entitled to behave unethically and refuse the vaccine? I'm not sure I would have chosen the word "entitled" in this context. However the obligation here is a moral one, not a legal one. Are you happier with the way I parsed out the word choice this time?

user75

getting a greater portion of the county’s population vaccinated against COVID-19

As I understand it the vaccine does not prevent getting the virus or transmission of the virus, so not sure why this would be needed to follow the CDC guidelines on options to reduce quarantine?

Vmae39

get the vaccine but you are only good for 90 days? That is what people are being told. As of now if you get the vaccine you are only free from quarantine for 90 days if in contact with positive person. So if we get the whole school vaccinated can we get rid of mask? Can we not have to quarantine for at least a year? Why would one( especially kids) get vaccinated if nothing changes. Yes I know we are being told “well it’s because not everyone is getting vaccine” or “well we need to learn more about how vaccine reacts to covid.” I’ll get my child vaccinated when I am told. “ get vaccinated and wear no mask at school for at least one year”. Getting the vaccine because it is the ethnical thing to do is a big NO

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