COVID-19 rips through schools

Kansas data doesn't account for outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools, as nobody is attempting to tally statewide numbers. Gov. Laura Kelly announced a new group to produce a weekly report but it isn't clear when that will start or where the data comes from.


State News

September 8, 2021 - 9:55 AM

Gov. Laura Kelly joined Second Gentleman Douglass Emhoff, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and other local and state leaders for a tour of Topeka High's vaccine clinic Monday afternoon. Photo by [Pool Photography by Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal]

TOPEKA — School districts across the state independently reported hundreds of infections of COVID-19 among students and staff in the first two weeks of school, while the state’s official ledger showed just two small outbreaks.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s data on school infections is unreliable because of the difficulty in tracing sources of infections and communication between the agency and local health officials. In its most recent update, the agency’s official accounting attributed just 75 new cases to outbreaks at public schools.

The number of outbreaks is actually much higher, but nobody is attempting to tally statewide numbers. Gov. Laura Kelly last week announced a new workgroup would produce a weekly report with active outbreaks, but the governor’s office didn’t say when the first report would be released. It isn’t clear whether the report will rely on the same incomplete data.

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