MANHATTAN (KSNT) – The Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 School District Board met on Monday evening to discuss the possibility of applying a mask warrant in light of the recent increase in COVID cases.
The board welcomed Dr Ryan Knopp and Dr Kate Dove from the local medical advisory board to answer questions and talk about the return of masks to the school district.
“The combination of the persistent delta variant, the rapid onset of the highly transmissible omicron-COVID variant at a level of contagiousness very close to measles that we certainly didn’t see coming,” Knopp said. “In the context of numerous cases of the flu and other seasonal respiratory viruses, this has once again led to a very difficult situation in healthcare, in the business sector and in society in general and, I am afraid, will soon lead to more challenges. “
Knopp then recommended a temporary return to masks in the district to help protect students and staff from the recent increase in COVID cases.
“We would encourage a return to universal masking throughout the school district for at least the first four to six weeks of the second semester,” Knopp said.
Knopp said the delay has been suggested to help deal with peak omicron wave, persistent delta wave and seasonal influenza viruses.
He went on to say that the total number of COVID cases was skyrocketing and had increased by more than 204% in the past two weeks with a nationwide positivity rate of more than 20%. Hospitalizations for people with COVID have increased by 35% in the past two weeks. Knopp placed the COVID figures in the context of an increase in influenza viruses that are putting additional strain on local health systems.
Knopp, who runs a family practice in Manhattan, said local health care providers were running out of COVID testing.
“You may not understand the dire situation we find ourselves in once again as health care providers, but I see it every day. Dr Dove sees this every day. It’s exhausting, it’s disheartening and it’s definitely going to get worse over the next couple of months, ”Knopp said.
According to Knopp, vaccinations are the best tools to prevent future infections and epidemics. Testing is also an effective tool, although he said if his office cannot get testing kits, people should throw out the idea.
On masking, “this is not the end of everything,” he said. “I’m not here to say it’s the most important tool in the toolkit, but it can be useful. “
Knopp recommended that the KN-95, KF-94, and N-95 masks be the best options to use. Well-constructed surgical masks and cloth masks work well but are not the best.
“I am fully aware that there are often two camps when it comes to masking,” Knopp said. “Those who say we should never mask ourselves and are adamantly opposed to them and those who say we should mask ourselves universally until this pandemic is over. But as many of you have heard me say repeatedly throughout this pandemic, there just happens to be a lot of truth and common sense here halfway through. ”
Masking, when used where it makes the most sense, appears to be the medical advisory board’s best recommendation to the school board. Not the permanent use of masks during the pandemic, but only during peaks like the one we are currently seeing in Manhattan.
“What if here in Manhattan, Kansas, we found a way to work together, to meet in the middle, to say that we’re going to use masks as one tool in the toolkit for a brief period when it is most needed.” necessary, as over the next few weeks, ”he said. “So also be prepared to say that as soon as we get past this crisis, we are removing it quickly.” For me, it’s a meeting in the middle.
The school board voted after the meeting on whether or not to implement a temporary return to a mask warrant for $ 383. In a 4-1 vote, council approved the plan to bring the term back to the district.
To watch the full school board meeting, see the YouTube video below.