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County starts to allow modified quarantines

BELOIT – As of Tuesday late afternoon, Mitchell County COVID-19 numbers have increased to 33 active cases, with 102 total cases since March. The state of Kansas and other counties are recording record highs as well.

Tuesday, the Mitchell County Health Department, in collaboration with the county officer and board of health, announced they will begin allowing modified quarantines for close contacts of positive COVID-19 patients if both the individual who tested positive and the close contact are wearing a mask. This is in an effort to encourage the use of masks, decrease the spread of COVID-19, and continue to allow individuals who have not tested positive to work.

Confirmed positive individuals will continue to be required to isolate at home.

"Please note, this will vary based upon each individual circumstance and the modified quarantine needs to be approved by the health department prior to doing so," said Mitchell County Health Department Administrator Cortney Murrow. "A modified quarantine will allow contacts to continue to work outside of the home if necessary, but the contact must continue to quarantine when not at work. This means gatherings and events will continue to not be allowed for close contacts during the modified quarantine period."

With the modified quarantine, a business or workplace does retain the right to not allow an employee who has been identified as a close contact to come to work. Additionally, a modified quarantine will not be approved if either the positive individual or the close contact is not wearing a mask. As stated previously, modified quarantines will be situational, with the possibility of returning to full quarantines of individuals based upon the current condition in Mitchell County.

Schools around the area are now modifying their schooling as well as increasing COVID-19 cases are occurring.

While USD 273 Superintendant Jeff Travis says, "We are working with the situations given to us and feel we are safe in our current environment," other counties are having to turn to alternative learning.

Cloud County is having a major surge and reported a 339 positive case count as of Monday, with a two week 199 positive count and 101 cases pending.

During the USD 333 Concordia Board of Education meeting on Monday, KNCK/ NCK radio reported that Superintendent Quentin Breese publicly announced the decision to have junior and senior high students switch to remote learning this week because of an increase in COVID-19 cases.

In a letter to USD 333 Concordia families, Superintendent Breese said they received notification Monday of a continual increase in confirmation of COVID-19 in the area which has pushed the district into the red of the Gating Criteria set forth from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas State Department of Education. Due to this information, the district will be moving from its current inperson instructional model to remote learning for grades 7-12. K-6 will remain with in-person instruction at this time.

The district will begin its remote learning model for 7-12 students on Thursday, November 12th and, at this time, plan on staying in remote through Tuesday, November 24th. They hope to be able to return to in-person learning by Monday, November 30th.

Fortunately, Breese says the district has planned for this scenario and is ready to quickly make this transition.

Osborne County is reporting 7 active cases, 1 death as of Monday's report.

According to a Sunflower State Radio report, The Waconda School District is committed to open communication and notification in regards to the education and health of all students. As a part of this commitment, they are notifying the communities that positive cases of COVID-19 have been identified at Tipton Community School. The Mitchell County Health Department has been notified and has completed contact tracing in regards to these cases. Due to the known exposure to staff and students and the possibility of asymptomatic staff or student exposure, Waconda School District, along with the Mitchell County Health Department, have determined that as of Monday, the Tipton Community School will move to a hybrid learning environment with the following protocols in place:

Kindergarten through 4th grade will continue to attend onsite with the appropriate masking, temp checking, social distancing and sanitizing protocols in place. Parents will have the option for their child to attend remotely. The 5th Grade through 8th Grade will move to remote learning environment with students Zooming in with their teachers from home.

Students will hopefully be able to return to onsite learning after Thanksgiving Break on Nov. 30. However, onsite learning could be postponed until after Christmas Break if the virus risk has not decreased.

The Waconda School District has followed the district mitigation plan and county health department guidelines and will continue to follow these steps and procedures.

Other businesses that have had their course of action changed include the Beloit Country Club, as a former staff member of the Country Club had tested positive for the virus. The staff members that were around the employee are on quarantine until Nov. 13. Other staff members that were not exposed will step up to help with the clubhouse to continue to serve a limited menu starting today, Wednesday.

With the significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Beloit, the First Bank of Beloit has decided to close its lobby. The drive-up facility will remain open during regular business hours. If some businesses needs to be conducted inside the bank, they can contact the bank for arrangements. Masks will be required if you come inside the bank.

Republic County COVID-19 cases are at 39 active as of Tuesday for a 127 overall total since March and 1 death.

Due to recent exposures to employees, the Republic County Health Department has announced the suspension of services until Nov. 17.

To quarantine effectively, employees who are not positive have transitioned to modified quarantine or working from home. All staff have been tested and results are pending at this time. Employees who did not test positive will return to the office on modified quarantine.

No one from the public has been exposed other than employees and their families.

Other counties case numbers include: as of Tuesday, Jewell County 7 active cases, 1 death.

As of Monday, Saline County had reported 240 active cases for a 1,413 overall total with 16 deaths.

"We cannot stress enough the importance of washing your hands, social distancing at least 6 feet of distance or more, wear a mask, cover coughs and sneezes, monitor your health daily, and please stay home when feeling ill," Murrow said. "If you feel you need to seek medical attention, please do so by calling your physician. Reminder, please do not arrive at the clinic or hospital prior to calling ahead."

"Going into the holiday season, now is the time for everyone to please do your part ensure the health and safety of our community, including our vulnerable populations. We want to thank our community members for their continued diligence in preventing the spread of infection and patience moving forward."

Beloit Call

P.O. Box 309, Concordia, Ks. 66901

Phone: 785-738-3537