With a number of positive cases on the high school football team leading to the first COVID-19 cluster being identified in Derby, reporting of said cases drew a lot of attention recently.
USD 260 currently has a policy in place that all close contacts of confirmed positive cases will be contacted, but no mass notifications will be sent out in such scenarios, though a statement was made regarding the cluster given the fact that it forced the cancellation of two DHS football games.
Like Derby schools, a number of other prominent public entities share similar policies when it comes to COVID reporting. Derby Communications Director Kristy Bansemer even said the city nearly mirrors USD 260 in its policy.
Human Resources will notify close contacts of reported positive cases and pass on guidance for how to proceed, but Bansemer noted being a smaller entity the city does not have a policy on reporting case numbers publicly.
“We have no plans to do a regular report mainly because we don’t have a lot to report on our end,” Bansemer said.
From March 18 through Oct. 5, Bansemer reported the city has had three positive cases among personnel. Most staff work from their offices and are separated the majority of the day, but cases regarding police officers and firefighters may be handled differently because of different exposures.
No matter the case, though, Bansemer said the city would not identify the building the cases are in – just that there have been positive cases reported within the city. That goes back to the small staffing numbers, as Bansemer said if the building is identified it wouldn’t be hard for the individual testing positive to be identified, even by accident.
“We’re trying to protect employees at the same time but still provide information as well,” Bansemer said. “If we’re shutting down buildings because of a positive case, then we would say ‘due to a positive COVID case at city hall we’re going to shut down for two days and do extra cleaning.’ That very well could happen. Obviously we’re not going to identify who the person was, but we do have frontline staff who are working with people. Even with face masks and plexiglass there’s still the chance of transmission, but we do everything we can to avoid that.”
Bansemer did state that city HR would work with the county and state health departments if a positive case is reported among staff.
Likewise, Derby Recreation Commission Director of Administration Derek Smith noted the DRC would take its lead from the county in such instances.
“Our plan, if we have a significant exposure, is to work with the Sedgwick County Health Department and follow any advice they may have,” Smith said. “If they advise or if they choose to make that public, I think that is what we would probably abide by if they think it’s smart.”
With a number of factors to consider (i.e., how lengthy was the contact, where was the person specifically, in what kind of environment), Smith noted the DRC has not made any hard and fast policies on COVID reporting.
Should a member of the public be exposed at one of the DRC facilities, Smith said that would be reported to the county and the DRC would then help with contract tracing. While those affected directly would be contacted, any public communication beyond that would depend on a number of factors.
“I think that would have to be a pretty significant exposure over a pretty significant amount of time,” Smith said.
Additional cleaning, like with the city, would also be required upon confirmation of a positive case at a DRC facility.
While Smith noted the DRC has not dealt with any positive cases among members, it has had staff test positive and quarantine for a two-week period.
Reporting policies remain bare in order to protect individuals, but there are a number of other personnel policies (i.e., wearing masks, social distancing, etc.) both the city and DRC have implemented to try and keep case numbers down – something that remains important in their eyes.
“Those are the things that are going to allow us to stay open and continue to function,” Smith said, “so it’s important for us, for the community, for our jobs. There’s a lot of good reasons to do it.”