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Nodaway County as a whole has been far from an example of how to handle COVID-19. Actually, it’s been the exact opposite, with the county firmly labeled by the New York Times coronavirus database as a hot spot. The desire to pursue a sense of normalcy has led to this, and now the Nodaway County Commission has stripped precautions for faculty in its 17 schools. Faculty that have been contact traced in order to keep in-person school going. This will most assuredly only further the problem.

The Nodaway County Commission made a declaration that allows faculty who have been contact traced to return to work given they wear a mask, follow social distancing guidelines and are asymptomatic. This round-a-bout logic is the reason we are having such an issue in the first place.

COVID-19 has been able to spread so easily due, in part, to asymptomatic carriers. New studies have found that asymptomatic carriers have the same amount of the virus in their systems as those who show symptoms. These carriers may never develop symptoms but are still capable of spreading the virus to others. Teachers who have been exposed to a positive case and never develop symptoms could still be capable of spreading the virus to other faculty and students.

With this new declaration, a faculty member doesn’t even need to be fully asymptomatic either. Symptoms for the coronavirus have an incubation period of two to 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The person in question could be contact traced and not feel anything for a week or two, all the while having the virus in their system and endangering those around them.

The pursuit to keep schools in person is a noble one, but that pursuit shouldn’t promote the removal of carefully placed guidelines that experts say will limit the spread of COVID-19. Humans as a whole tend to think in the present and that’s how we approach solutions. Sure, having asymptomatic faculty that came in contact with a positive case return to work will keep schools open in the short term, but it will expose more students and faculty which will only multiply the problem long term.

This declaration by the county commission is a smaller version of what’s been happening with Missouri’s leadership in terms of dealing with the pandemic. Gov. Mike Parson has been determined to keep regulations light in order to keep the economy working. The result of those light regulations, however, was more cases and more people staying at home which means less economic growth. It’s kicking the can further down the road and making the can larger at the same time. The Nodaway County Commission is doing the same thing, and it’s endangering the lives of faculty and students.

The pandemic has been littered with examples of it only taking one person to defy proper guidelines for an outbreak to start in an area. Nodaway County is encouraging proper guidelines to be disregarded which will only increase the likelihood of school closures. 

We don’t have enough information. There aren’t years of data on the coronavirus or doctors who have been studying it for decades. That’s why there is an abundance of caution because we continue to learn more every day. We still don’t know the actual transmission rate, the long-term effects or if a vaccine will even work.

We do know, however, that people that come in contact with a positive case should isolate themselves for others’ safety. The Nodaway County Commission has decided to ignore this fact to keep schools going. They are only further endangering faculty and students with their ignorance, saving the schools’ present by sacrificing schools’ future.


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