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To mask or not to mask: Harvey County officials weigh in on path forward

Coronavirus in Kansas

HARVEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Harvey County Health Department recommends face masks indoors whether a person is vaccinated or not. That recommendation includes schools and comes after the CDC listed Harvey County as having substantial COVID-19 transmission this week.

Lynnette Redington, Harvey County Health director, said they had 23 COVID-19 cases since Monday. She said the numbers are concerning and believes masks will help as the school year approaches.

“It is asked that everyone in school settings wear a mask, so we are asking schools to consider that, and we are strongly recommending that,” Redington said.

Newton Public Schools said currently they are encouraging masks but not requiring them. However, they continue to look at the situation.

The superintendent for Hesston schools said he is meeting with the health department Thursday. While masks are optional at the moment, they are continuing to assess the situation as well.

Halstead school’s superintendent said masks are optional right now and will review the recommendation.

“Everybody can just make their own decision on that, you know if they want to wear them, let them wear it, but I don’t think it needs to be a mask mandate for us to doing it again,” said Sharon Skidmore, who is a grandmother of students in Harvey County.

Several parents in Harvey County told KSN News that they would not mind if their kids wore masks when the school year started, especially with the delta variant spike.

The department stated that they made the decision following consultation with Dr. Doyle Detweiler, public health officer for Harvey County.

“This a recommendation, not a requirement, but we need to emphasize the urgency of sound public health precautions,” said Redington. “Our duty is to promote public health tools and education. Wearing a face mask around others and getting a COVID-19 vaccination are two significantly effective measures against COVID-19.”

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