Coping with COVID: Kansas’ top health official Lee Norman discusses risks moving forward

Norman with the KDHE says there will always be a risk to face moving forward and that while it is important to get students back in the classroom, he urges districts making that decision to take caution.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman addressed the issue of education in the state of Kansas and the plan moving forward for students in an interview with 41 Action News.

Norman acknowledged that how to get students back in the classroom this fall is one of the state’s largest issue when it comes to working around the coronavirus.

While several school districts in the Kansas City metro are still weighing reopening options, Norman did note that it’s important that students get back in school, though it’s up to the districts to find ways to do so, reports 41 Action News.

“I think they just have to cautiously experiment to come up with what the best plan is,” Norman said. “There’s no way you can mitigate the risk down to zero. There will always be risk going forward.”

In regard to contact tracing and how it relates to HIPAA regulations for students, Norman recommended districts across the state have staff and students opt-in to contact tracing.

According to Norman, there are ways to safely protect the privacy of people in schools, reports 41 Action News.

“We have in Kansas what’s called Epitracks; it is HIPAA compliant,” Norman said.

Testing asymptomatic people puts additional pressure on health care workers, Norman said to 41 Action news, and he believes it’s better to focus on testing people with symptoms.