According to the CDC, only 45% of the population of Geary County is fully vaccinated. They also report a high level of community transmission in our county.
On Monday, August 2nd, Geary County Health Department staff met with USD 475 superintendent and other members of the school district staff to discuss the need for masks. It is imperative that we proceed with looking out for the best way to protect our children during the coming school year. The Health Department strongly encouraged the implementation of a mask requirement based on current and historic statistics concerning COVID-19.
Last school year, approximately 950 staff and students were either isolated or quarantined as a result of COVID infection or exposure. This only includes those tracked by the Health Department, not those tracked by Fort Riley. Over the past 2 months—June and July—we have had 87 children under the age of 17 test positive for COVID. Since April, we have had 100 cases of the Delta variant in Geary County: 61 of those cases just in July. Twenty-two of those cases are in children 17 and younger. Twelve of those cases are in children 12 and over who could be vaccinated. With the ongoing, close contact that occurs in school, it is critical to keep the students and staff safe through the use of masks, as well as other practices, such as vaccination, handwashing, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and testing.
The use of masks and the implementation of the COVID testing plan recommended by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for K-12 Schools will be critical to keeping kids in school and learning. We are currently working with school district on the development of the Test to Stay and Learn plan, which will be used to ensure students and staff can remain in school, even when they have been exposed to a positive case.
More information can be obtained by contacting Geary County Health Director, Tanmy VonBusch at (785) 762-5788.