Johnson County’s Covid Numbers and How They Could Affect Hybrid Learning

Sydney Slaton, Reporter

In Johnson County, Kansas the number of Covid-19 cases is holding steady even since hybrid learning, hopefully it will last. 

So far Johnson County has about 18,000 cases of coronavirus, which may seem like a lot but considering the country’s number of cases is almost 10 million the county is doing “pretty good” for “as close as we live together.” 

“So as a county for as populous as we are. I’d say our spread, or rate of people actually coming down with it is probably pretty fair,” Parent Holly Palacio said 

As often as the numbers seem to change however, they could be wrong. Hospitals and doctor’s offices are required to report their positive Covid-19 cases to the state and the county, but they each have their own criteria for when to report them. Hospitals and doctors feel more compelled to report their cases to the state quicker than the county. 

“They’re actually collecting data at different times at different rates from different entities that are required to report to them,” Palacio said. 

Regardless of when the cases were reported though, people still feel that they are “starting to get out of control.” 

“I believe they probably could have maybe some stricter rules about mask wearing and things,” Sophomore Rhianna Scott said. “But really, there’s not a whole lot to do about it so.”

While people feel that the county could be a little harder on the virus, there aren’t as many criticisms for Olathe South. 

“They’ve been really good at handling it and making sure that everything is sanitized and everyone’s wearing masks and things like that, ” Scott said.

It’s not just the students that feel that way. When students do come down with the virus, Olathe South is quick to quarantine the student and notify the parents of students who might have been exposed, even if some think it is a little extreme. 

“Communication wise I think we’re doing well,” Palacio said. “Reaction wise, I still feel like we’re erring on the side of abundance of caution. I’d really like it to be more reasonable caution.”

People are concerned that “there’s no real plan for an education while anyone is in quarantine” however. The students are “treated as sick” and have to collect their two weeks of missing work when they come back to school. 

“I do have a football player in the house and, so before everybody got back into hybrid they were quarantined,” Palacio said. “In that particular instance, I did feel like it was kind of overkill on the quarantine.” 

People are “surprised the number of people who do voluntarily wear masks.” 

“I feel like people are being very conscientious about whether or not they go out whether or not you attend something, whether or not you send a kid to school, or you take a trip or anything like that I think people are being very conscientious about what they’re doing,” Palacio said. 

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s gating criteria allows students to go to school for hybrid learning because the percent of positive cases per number of people tested is staying in the yellow zone, 5.1-10 percent. Students will be allowed to go back to school full time if the percent positive rate gets under five percent, which would put the district in the green zone.

“Given the number of tests that are being administered currently if that rate stays the same it’s going to be nearly impossible to get there, 5%,” Palacio said. 

The gating criteria would also require students to go back online if the percent positive rate gets above 10.1 percent, which would mean the distinct would be in the orange or red zone. The orange zone would mean students would have to go back to remote learning unless proper “modifying variables” are put in place, the red zone would mean that students would be remote learning regardless. However, people are worried about how remote learning will affect the students’ learning and mental health. 

“Me personally, I don’t think it’s the best option for a lot of students including me and a lot of my friends,” Scott said “So, I believe some students would struggle a lot more online again.”

Parents and students are worried about how remote learning will affect students’ morale. People feel that “remote was pretty devastating” to students’ mental health and hope that the school can stay hybrid. 

“So, I would really hope that we kind if all take a cautious approach to going back remote,” Palacio said “that that would only be used in a truly catastrophic outbreak type situation.”

People are also concerned that students won’t learn very well should the students have to go back to remote learning. 

“I was struggling a lot because I learned better in the classroom,” Scott said.

People worried that students will have to go back to online learning, they’re worried about the effects of online learning on students’ mental health and they’re worried about protecting their friends and family from the virus.   

“Yeah, I think everybody does feel a responsibility to not be the one you know that makes someone else sick,” Palacio said “and we really don’t want that for our neighbors and our friends.”