Jayhawk nurse seeks approval for modified COVID-19 testing

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

MOUND CITY – Lacey Earnest, nurse from Jayhawk USD 346, appeared before the commission on Monday, Oct. 4, to request that Linn County Commission Chair Rick James sign off on the county platform that students exposed to COVID-19 will be tested by school nurses weekly.

She expressed her concern that, since the county did not currently have a health officer, she wanted to make sure that someone had signed off on the testing in the schools.

James is presently the Linn County Health Officer because that position at the Linn County Health Department has not been filled since Robin Spencer resigned last month. The department also has not yet hired a director for the department since Tisha Coleman left last month to work for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

Earnest told the commission that the school found out on Friday that, in order to be compliant with the KDHE grant for testing kits, they needed to follow the state guidelines and test daily rather than weekly.

The Jayhawk school district has chosen to not use the grant and just test weekly, but they must have the county health officer verify that this is the county platform. She said the school district will not have to pay back the money used, but in order to keep the rest they would have to test daily.

All three school districts in the county have adopted what is called a test-to-learn policy that allows students who have come into contact with another student who has tested positive to stay in school as long as they wear a mask and are tested regularly.

Earnest said that Pleasanton had not taken the grant to avoid being forced to follow state guidelines but that Jayhawk and Prairie View had used the grant. According to Earnest, Prairie View has chosen to take the grant and test daily.

Earnest said she would be meeting that afternoon with KDHE representatives who were still interested in supplying some kind of testing supplies to the district.

She explained that at Jayhawk when students are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they are given the option of staying home for 10 days or attending a modified quarantine by wearing masks at school and being tested weekly.

She said that all students in sports are tested the day of their games.

James said that he would take this to the consulting physician who is from the Community Health Centers of Southeast Kansas and would get back with her.

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