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CDC eases distance restrictions for schools
Barton County sees one only new case from March 12-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines for schools on Friday, saying students can safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they wear masks but should be kept the usual 6 feet away from one another at sporting events, assemblies, lunch or chorus practice.

The Associated Press reports the revised recommendations represent a turn away from the 6-foot standard that has sharply limited how many students some schools can accommodate.

The Kansas House on Monday advanced SB 235, which would require schools have an in-person learning option by March 26.

A final vote on the bill is expected Tuesday and if approved it will go to Gov. Laura Kelly for her consideration, the Kansas Association of School Boards reports. KASB opposes this bill, saying it is an overreaching mandate that doesn’t take into account local health emergency conditions.

Great Bend USD 428 has offered in-person and remote education since the schools reopened in the fall semester. The schools are closed this week for Spring Break, but there has not been a case reported on the district website since a student at Great Bend High School tested positive on Feb. 22. Contact tracing in the schools showed 15 close contacts for that student.

The district’s last update, posted March 11, showed there have been 171 total cases in the district and 171 have recovered.

One Great Bend cases in one week

There were seven active COVID-19 cases in Barton County Friday morning, according to information released by Public Information Officer Donna Zimmerman. The 2,483 total cases to date, an increase of one since the last report one week earlier, on March 12. The newest case is a female who resides in Great Bend.

There were also no new quarantine or isolation orders issued in the past week, although 16 were still active on Friday. A week earlier, 32 orders were active.

There are two active cases in Ellinwood, four in Great Bend and one rural Barton County.

Here are the total cases to date, by residence:

• Albert 11

• Claflin 69

• Ellinwood 215

• Great Bend 1,510

• Hoisington 235

• Great Bend 1,510

• Hoisington 235

• Olmitz 12

• Pawnee Rock 15

• Rural Barton County 416

Statewide reports

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports 646,793 Kansans – 22.2% of the state’s population – have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 320,985 second doses have been administered.

The Barton County Health Department has received 7,004 doses of vaccine and the Pawnee County Health Department has received 1,660 doses since the immunization program started on Dec. 14, 2020.

KDHE reports that Kansas has had 299,510 COVID-19 cases, resulting in 9,604 hospitalizations and 4,842 statewide deaths as of Friday morning. There were 606 new cases, five new deaths and 46 new hospitalizations reported since Wednesday, March 17.

Here are the state’s totals for positive and suspected COVID-19 cases to date for area counties, followed by the number of deaths as of Friday morning:

• Barton 2,584 cases (+1) since Wednesday, 47 deaths

• Ellsworth 1,212 (+1), 25

• Pawnee 1,143 (-), 13

• Rice 1,061 (+1), 12

• Rush 428 (-), 14

• Russell 851 (+1), 27

• Stafford 335 (-), 9

No new deaths were reported in area counties.