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.