Local doctors weigh in on BOE’s decision to move forward with fall activities

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Local doctors are voicing their opinions after the Wichita Board of Education (BOE) voted to allow fall activities and sports with restrictions.

While many in Wichita are excited by the overturned decision, health professionals said it’s important to not let up on safety precautions.

“We do know that COVID-19 created a worldwide pandemic because of how easily it’s spread, especially in communities like ours,” said Dr. Paul Teran with KU Pediatrics at Wesley Medical Center. “There’s even been teams in our region and community and schools that have already needed to close temporarily.”

Two members of the USD 259 Superintendent’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee and parents of district students are also doctors who are able to see all sides.

They said they are pleased with the BOE’s decision to allow sports and activities, but fear that COVID-19 cases might be inevitable.

The doctors said the decision will be beneficial to students but said they also need to pay close attention to what they are doing inside their activity and outside.

“Coaches, the student-athletes, and the teachers that are working with the students and sports in 259 really need to hold themselves to a higher standard than most community members do,” said Dr. Rebecca Reddy with Redbud Pediatrics. “They’re now going to be in a higher risk group and need to very seriously restrict their social interactions, wearing masks as much as possible and careful attention especially to their hand hygiene.”

Dr. Teran and Dr. Reddy said they are happy to see so much support from the community, especially those voicing that mental health is important for kids and teens.

“We need to find ways to keep our finger on the poll and pivot if we need to and really respect all the decisions the health department is making,” said Dr. Teran.

Dr. Reddy said the future of the sports seasons and activities does partly rest on the athlete’s shoulders.

“It is very likely we will have an outbreak, a cluster on several of our USD 259 teams,” said Dr. Reddy. “So everything we can do to reduce that risk is very important.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see teams in our area quarantine for periods of time and when it comes down to it, if anybody on those teams or any coach or staff members does have symptoms, this is the time that they do get tested,” said Dr. Teran. “Follow the health department’s steps for quarantining because of how rapidly this spreads when you’re doing those high-risk activities.”

The doctors said they want to see the momentum to continue and shift toward the needs of other students this school year, including those with disabilities and those who need additional resources.

For more information about the BOE’s decision, restrictions, and how fall activities and sports will look, click here.

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