PITTSBURG — Two weeks. Fourteen days. 336 hours. 20,160 minutes. Someone who has had to quarantine over the last few months knows these figures well. Since March, 14 days has been the required isolation period for anyone exposed to COVID-19. It’s been one of the only constants during this time of great change and uncertainty.
However, the Crawford County Commission — upon a recommendation from the county’s public health officer — has approved a measure that changes that period of isolation for students exposed to the virus in a classroom.
On Friday, the commission approved a recommendation from the health department that would eliminate the required 14-day isolation period and move to a modified quarantine model for anyone exposed to COVID-19 while in a classroom or at school.
"We do not believe that classroom contacts in the mitigated scenario following all the rules that we have outlined with the schools should be considered a close contact for quarantine," said Crawford County Public Health Officer Dr. Tim Stebbins.
The recommendation comes after studying nine weeks of data from the schools and concluding that with the current mitigation methods in Crawford County schools, transmission in a classroom setting has not happened and is not likely to happen, according to Stebbins.
"Being in a math class does not appear to increase your risk of getting COVID-19," Stebbins said.
Students exposed in a classroom setting will still be notified, as will their families, but instead of the required isolation, they will have the option to remain in school.
As long as all other mitigation strategies are followed, the county will continue "monitoring and tracking classroom exposures″ and ″recommendations may change if concerns arise for in-classroom spread." This policy was approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.