SHAWNEE, Kan. — A Johnson County mother is concerned for what's to come in the new school year after a COVID-19 outbreak shuttered a county summer camp at Clear Creek Elementary School.
Marlina, who wished to be addressed by her first name only, had to explain to her daughter why she was in quarantine.
“I’m not sick and we tell her we know,” said Marlina, whose 6-year-old daughter attended a Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department camp at Clear Creek Elementary School.
Children who attended the camp ranged in age from 5 to 11 – all ineligible to get vaccinated against the virus.
“I know that one child tested positive at the JCPRD summer camp, and we were informed about it just so we were aware, and then a couple days later we were notified that a couple more children tested positive,” Marlina said.
Those positive cases continued to climb – 10 total, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment – forcing the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment to step in.
“When we had our second case, the health department asked us to close down our cohort that that happened in," Jessica Anderson, JCPRD children services manager, said. "So we had sent out a notification to parents to do that. So then after that we had another case in another cohort, which shut the whole camp down."
The department said the masking recommendations and safety guidelines put in place were recommended by the De Soto Unified School District 232 and JCDHE.
“That communication was sent out to parents, and the risks were mentioned as well, that if we do have a COVID case wearing a mask is going to put you at lower risk of contracting or being exposed,” Anderson said.
In addition to grouping children into cohorts, Anderson said high-touch surfaces are sanitized and disinfected. Children also wash their hands frequently, and drop-off and pickup procedures have changed, according to Anderson, so that anyone "not essential to the program doesn't come in the building."
However, even after Marlina's daughter tested negative for COVID-19 and completed her quarantine, Marlina said the situation was a wake up call for her family and she hopes the district and others feel the same.
“We can’t put them in a bubble," Marlina said, "but I think we should be doing everything we can. These are our children – and health and safety of our children – is something we should be able to agree on if nothing else."