CLAY COUNTY — Rather than have all students return to in-classroom learning this fall, Clay County Public Health Center recommends people of any age with chronic medical conditions consult with their doctor before returning to school. In addition, the health center recommends high school and middle school students with high risk household member stick with virtual learning for the coming school year. For younger students, CCPHC recommends children attend classes in person.
“Although we are seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19 in under 10 and 10 to 19 age groups, it appears that this is primarily stemming from adults transmitting this disease to children. To date, transmission from children under 10 seems to be less than that from the 10 to 19 age group. Therefore, based on this evidence, and the challenges of virtual learning in the younger ages, we are recommending beginning the school year with in-person education for pre-K through grade school students,” states the health center’s 19-page community guidance report. “Because the transmission of COVID-19 among 12 to 18-year-old children appears to be biologically similar to that of adults, we are recommending virtual learning for high school and middle school students where a household member is considered high risk for serious complications if infected with COVID-19.”
Those at higher risk for complications from coronavirus include those 65 and older, those illnesses such as cancer, heart conditions or disease, obesity, Sickle cell disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, who had an organ transplant, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or a weakened immune system.
“For both high school and middle school students, virtual-only or various hybrid models should be implemented, including smaller cohorts and reduced days of attendance, to reduce the likelihood of transmission among these students and students to teachers and adult support staff. These hybrid models will need close monitoring to determine if they can be done safely. Furthermore, our recommendation is that middle and high school students should not begin school until after Labor Day,” states the guidance report.
As the beginning of the school year approaches, preparing to protect the health and safety of students and school staff is a top priority, states a release from the health center’s website, clayhealth.com.
“Clay County Public Health Center has been communicating with school district leaders for weeks to help provide evidence-based guidance to make the return to school as safe as possible,” states the release.
Northland districts have been implementing recommendations from the health center, releasing school reentry plans that include virtual-only, in-person and hybrid models, and have been asking families to let the district know which option they will use for their children. In addition, this week Kearney and Liberty districts pushed the start of school back to Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. Smithville will determine if it will also change its start date at a meeting Thursday, Aug. 6.
“Keep in mind that guidance may change as needed in the coming weeks, based on new information and local disease trends at the time schools begin to reopen,” states the public health release.