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Health officials urge caution as students return to class after long holiday weekend

“The reality is the reality. If you want to get this under control and reduce the burden on each other and reduce the risk of disease transmission, you have to mask,” said Dr. Stites.

Posted: Sep 6, 2021 2:36 PM
Updated: Sep 7, 2021 9:50 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) As millions of families return home from the long holiday weekend, health officials remind parents now is not the time to ease up on COVID-19 precautions. 

Students will be returning to the classroom Tuesday after Labor Day weekend as the Delta variant continues to sweep across the U.S. 

As children under 12-years-old are ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, local pediatricians said safety protocols should be top of mind this week. 

In a written statement, Peacock Pediatrics wrote students should: 

“Continue to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands, get vaccinated if you’re eligible, stay home and get tested if you’re sick or exposed. You know the drill!”

Before Labor Day weekend, CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, advised unvaccinated Americans to stay home. 

However, a staycation was not the plan for millions of Americans according to the Transportation Security Administration. The TSA reported 3.5 million people were screened at airports on Friday and Saturday. 

“I think actually the rules of infection control are more important today than they were a year ago,” said Dr. Steven Stites, Chief Medical Officer for The University of Kansas Health Systems. 

Medical officials at The University of Health Systems tout multiple layers of protection in classrooms as a way to reduce the spread of virus and keep kids safely learning in-person.  

"We know that masking is probably the most important, the staying home if you're sick and the great hand hygiene practices in those settings,” said Amanda Cackler, RN, Director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health Systems. 

Some area students will be returning to school with a beefed up mask mandate after the holiday weekend. 

The Savannah R-3 School District and Both South Nodaway Schools have enacted temporary mask mandates when students return to the classroom due to an increasing number of students quarantined.

The Savannah R-3 District is requiring its middle school students and staff members to mask up beginning Tuesday. According to the district's COVID-19 dashboard, there are only eight active cases in secondary schools. Per district policy, if a school reaches the 8-percent threshold a mask policy will be triggered until rates fall.

In a statement posted online, South Nodaway School District Superintendent Dustin Skoglund said the district will begin a 10 day temporary mask mandate when students return to prevent any further quarantines or illnesses after Skoglund said at leaster a quarter of the schools' total population was out last week due to quarantines or illnesses. 

“The reality is the reality. If you want to get this under control and reduce the burden on each other and reduce the risk of disease transmission, you have to mask,” said Dr. Stites. 

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