Marshall County had fewer COVID-19 cases reported by early this week, with 21 active cases Tuesday and two people hospitalized.

But in some parts of the county, schools were starting to see cases pop up.

The Valley Heights High School football team was quarantined Friday after players were exposed to an active case. The team was slated to play Marysville High School Friday night at the Mustangs’ stadium, but the game was called off and MHS traveled to Beloit to play its season opener instead.

County health department director Sue Rhodes said last week that a Valley Heights elementary class also had been exposed to a case of COVID-19 and was quarantined in a classroom at school, with students and teacher entering and leaving through an outside door the rest of the school did not use. The classroom also had its own restroom, Rhodes said.

“We’re starting to see it in schools,” Rhodes said. “A few students and teachers.”

Most active cases lately have been in unvaccinated individuals. The county continues to offer free vaccinations each Tuesday. People can call for an appointment at 785-562-3485 or walk-ins are welcome at the clinic at 600 Broadway. Walmart’s pharmacy also offers free vaccines during daytime hours.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a news release last week urging people not to take the drug ivermectin unless prescribed by a physician and to take exactly as prescribed.

The KDHE release came in response to poison control centers and emergency rooms reporting a rise in calls regarding use of the medication.

The drug is not approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to treat or prevent COVID-19. Ivermectin has been approved in humans to treat skin conditions like rosacea, head lice or some parasitic worms. Ivermectin is used in livestock as an anti-parasite medicine and can be found in livestock supply centers. Livestock drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans, the release said.

“Kansans should avoid taking medications that are intended for animals and should only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician,” said KDHE Secretary Lee Norman. “These highly concentrated doses can cause severe illness and even death in humans. The COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective way to prevent COVID-19.”

To protect Kansas students, teachers, and staff from the threat of the contagious delta variant of COVID-19, Gov. Laura Kelly has formed a Safer Classrooms Workgroup.

“The Safer Classrooms Workgroup will provide information and guidance to give parents, teachers, school boards and others the tools they need to make informed decisions to protect our students and our communities,” Kelly said in a news release.

The Safer Classrooms Workgroup will be composed of pediatricians, family physicians, school nurses, pharmacists, school psychologists and other health professionals. They will meet weekly to highlight the urgency of protecting our kids from the delta variant, speaking with educators, parents and advocates about their experiences as schools work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  

Every week, the workgroup will release a school safety report to serve as a resource for media, parents, schools, communities and policymakers. 

The weekly report will include:

• Timely and relevant policies on testing and masking in schools and effective practices that can be shared across school districts.

• Updates on school districts with clearly communicated quarantine, testing and masking policies, to ensure families have what they need to know to keep their children safe.

• Information on school district vaccination and testing events – with resources to help schools plan, publicize and implement.

• County-level data on youth vaccinations, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. 

• Schools with active outbreaks. 

“We got our kids back in school by listening to health professionals, wearing masks, implementing stringent public health protocol and getting vaccinated,” Kelly said. “We’ll keep them there by continuing to follow the best health practices. I encourage all Kansans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”