KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a letter sent to various school boards and administrators in the Kansas City area, dozens of doctors asked that schools open with several policies in place to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
Dr. Melissa Gener, a local pediatric pathologist, came up with the idea for the letter. Gener said she wanted to be a voice for members of the public who trust science and expert opinion.
"As a mom of four kiddos, two of which are too young to be vaccinated, two are older and are vaccinated, I just felt like I had to step up for my fellow physicians and for the parents in the community as a whole," Gener said.
Gener sent out the request for local physicians to sign the letter Sunday morning and had 101 signatures by Monday morning.
The undersigned doctors stated they would like to see schools prioritize in-person learning and they “agree with the newest guidelines published by experts at the CDC,” as well as those published by the Johnson County Health Department.
"We all agree that our students need to be in school, my kids did virtual last year, it worked for them, I know many people it did not work for," Gener said.
The letter also said that “at minimum,” masks should be mandatory for all kids too young to be vaccinated and encouraged for older children who are not vaccinated.
"In our ideal, perfect world we would like universal masking, we would like the guidelines to be followed to a T including the American Academy of pediatrics," Gener said. "We recognize that may not be possible for many reasons not all of which are health-related."
They urged districts to closely contact trace students who test positive for the virus, while following guidelines recommended by the local health department for isolation and quarantine.
Gener said the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the metro scares her.
"That makes me worried, I am a fully vaccinated individual, most of my family with the exception of my two small children are fully vaccinated, but I now am masking up every time I go out," Gener said.
Hickman Mills School District Superintendent Yaw Obeng said the district will take the doctors' recommendations into consideration, among others.
"One of the things that’s been challenging for superintendents and school leaders is that we’re getting many sources, many directions in terms of from the national level, the state, the local in terms of what we should do and how we should keep our students safe," Obeng said.
He said his district will make a decision in August.
"Always we are going to move on the side of an abundance of caution in terms of being more conservative around the actions that we take and knowing that not everyone is going to be happy with that, but we have to protect our students and our staff," Obeng said.