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Transcript of JoCo on the Go Podcast 08/06/2020

Theresa Freed [00:00:00] On this episode, hear from Johnson County Public Health Officials about new guidance being offered to gauge the safety of sending kids back to the classroom. Find out what factors play a role in assessing the risk of COVID-19 in schools. Also, hear from a Johnson County child care expert about the safety precautions being taken in facility and home day cares to protect children and staff.

Announcer [00:00:22] Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything. Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed [00:00:35] Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host Theresa Freed at Johnson County, resident and employee of Johnson County Government. School districts all across Johnson County are deciding how and when to reopen. Many are delaying the start of the school year and all of them are preparing to meet the new state requirements. On July 21st, the governor signed an executive order to mandate safety precautions in Kansas schools, including masks for kids five and older, along with staff and visitors, hourly use of hand sanitizer and physical distancing following this order. Johnson County Department of Health and Environment developed a guidance document to help parents and schools understand the level of risk of COVID-19 spread and the things that can be done to lower that risk. In a recent town hall meeting, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment director Dr. Sanmi Areola, along with epidemiology director Elizabeth Holzschuh and program manager Megan Foreman, took questions about school guidance. Here's some of that conversation.

Megan Foreman [00:01:31] My name is Megan Foreman. I'm a program manager at the Department of Health and Environment in Johnson County. My day job typically involves a lot of community partnerships, which is why I was nominated as the person to coordinate our work with the school districts and reopening.

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:01:48] Elizabeth Holzschuh. I am the director of epidemiology at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. And since the beginning of COVID, I have basically been trying to oversee our case investigation and contact tracing and some of our guidance to various partners in our community as we have reopened and continue to manage the COVID pandemic here in Johnson County.

Dr. Sanmi Areola [00:02:09] Dr. Sanmi Areola, I'm the director for the Department of Health and Environment, and I'll start us off by making a few comments. First, we want to be very clear that all of us public health professionals, parents, pediatricians, teachers, we all are working towards the same goal. We want our children to be in school, but want them to be in school in his safe manner in there with up to touch and promote health, as well as the health of the teachers and staff members. We are where we think we have plateaued in some way, leveled off at slide new by a hundred cases a day. That's better than where we were the past couple of weeks. However, we think it is still too high. Several weeks ago we were at less than 20 cases a day. And here's what we know. When we open school and there is more interactions, we expect there will be infections, there'll be cases. And so we have to be ready for that. So what we have done in the past few months, working with school superintendents and school nurses, is to really understand the processes, better identify those situations in areas that present the highest risk. While understanding that we can not completely eliminate the risks, we want to make sure that we minimize and reduce the risk. So the decisions that we make is a consideration of not just public health. Is the concentration of the need for public education the fact that we need to have our children in school, as well as the fact that they do need these social interactions? So our decisions are based on those. And we tried to use the best available science to do that. Locally, we had the positivity rate, which you are going to hear about is one of our gating criteria. Today. We had 9.2 percent and that's over a 14-day trend, those are very, very important. Again, collectively, we have to know that the level of community transmission is very, very important to how we are able to open our schools. And so collectively as a society, we have a responsibility to reduce infection rates and break the transmission cycle in Johnson County. We cannot open schools if we are getting 100 cases a day. We cannot open school at nine percent infection rate with positivity rate. We need to bring that down. And ideally, we want that to be five percent or below. So let's continue to wear mask and for those students that are that want to be in school. This is not the time to host house parties. It's not the time to not wear masks. It's not the time to go to bars. We have to do this collectively so we can hope we've got open schools the best way that we can, and the best way possible that protects the health of our residents.

Theresa Freed [00:05:34] You heard a little bit about getting criteria, but can we talk a little bit more about how that criteria was put together? And we know the level of the positivity level now, but where does that put us in the color coding process that we have?

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:05:48] Sure. So gating criteria. We were really introduced to this as a country once COVID began and the White House came out with gating criteria for the reopening of our communities. And that's exactly what this is. It's a way to look at our current situation here in Johnson County, the community transmission, and provide guidance to our schools in what we believe based on science and data is the best learning mode to keep our children safe.

Megan Foreman [00:06:12] One of the things that I would just comment on the gating criteria is that we only drop into it one time. We need to sort of think about this then as once we're inside this yellow phase. That's when we use these data points to decide if we're going to move to a less restrictive mode of learning or a more restricted in person mode of learning.

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:06:35] Yes. And so, as Megan said, we are currently in the yellow phase. Dr. Areola mentioned that we have a current 14 day trend of percent positive tests at nine point two percent. And what that means is that over the past 14 days, of all the tests that we have received, both positive and negative, nine point two percent of them have been positive. This does not mean that nine point two percent of our population are positive. It's just. Of the tests that are performed on Johnson County residents, nine point two percent of them are positive. And in the yellow phase, we're looking at between five percent and 10 percent positivity. So we're really right at the top end of that. And as Dr. Ariela said, our cases have seemed to steady out all over the last 7 to 14 days. But we know that this disease, this virus is a little tricky and it can surge back if we're not doing those things that he mentioned, keeping masks on, staying physically distant, not going to parties and places where transmission can occur.

Megan Foreman [00:07:36] Yeah, and can I jump in and make two quick points on that? So the good news is that school is not starting tomorrow. We have an opportunity right now as county health leaders to work with our school district leaders to really figure out what this virus is going to do in the next couple of weeks. And that's why when I say we're jumping into yellow right now, that's because we're right under that 10 percent positivity rate. But we are waiting until the week of August 17th to meet with our school district leaders again to have another conversation about what our cases are doing. Are they increasing or are they decreasing? Are they holding steady? And shall we start school in this yellow range? Or do we need to think about going into a more restrictive mode of red?

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:08:19] And Megan, since you are really the person who instigated this communication and collaboration with our school district, would you like to talk about how we've worked in partnership with them to develop these?

Megan Foreman [00:08:30] Certainly, we've been in several meetings weekly with our school district leaders and with our school nurses who we have a great relationship with anyway. And we've really talked a lot, a lot about the challenges that schools face, about how we can make the public health recommendations that we are giving feasible in schools and about the things that schools and parents and families and the community really need to sort of think very, very carefully about as we try and bring groups together in a pandemic. I mean, this is not a simple situation. It is very complex.

Theresa Freed [00:09:06] So the next question is, why do middle and high schools and elementary schools have different criteria? And then why is the hybrid model not considered at the elementary level?

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:09:16] Absolutely. And I know that this has been a question that a lot of our parents and residents have had and teachers as well. And when we develop these gating criteria in conjunction with our school districts, we really went through the research and the literature and the science and the data that's existing right now to try to make the best informed decisions that we possibly could. We also looked at what we've learned locally through the beginning of the pandemic through now. And what we have seen repeatedly through studies is that children under the age of 10 seemingly do not spread this virus the same way adults do or older children. And so I know that there's a lot of concern about kids who are over the age of 10 being in elementary schools and if they're altogether. Elementary schools have a unique ability to keep classes together. It's what we call cohorting. So, in fact, when kids can stay in the same group, we reduce the risk of transmission between one group and the other. So if you think about middle and high school students, where they're switching classes throughout the day, they are at a much greater risk of being exposed to the virus from a large number of individuals. But in classrooms, in elementary schools, they're all together all day long. And so this means that if there is a kid or a staff member who is positive for COVID, we're not exposing a large number of individuals. It's just being maintained within that classroom. The other thing going back to the fact that kids under the age of 10 are less likely to spread this, they're also less likely to have severe illness and severe outcomes from this disease. We have kept daycares open in Johnson County from the beginning of the pandemic. Some did shut down during our stay at home orders. But we've seen great success in those daycares even before we had masking orders in place where we were not able to identify any instances of a child transmitting the virus to another child. We have had a few cases in schools in these daycares, mostly among staff and mostly prior to those mask orders being put in place. Since that has happened, we have seen a decrease in transmission in those places, meaning that these young kids who we know aren't wearing masks because they're either too young or they're not going to be compliant with it. And it doesn't fall under the executive order who also don't physically distance. I have a three and a half year old and I can tell you they are on top of each other and licking each other and all the things with COVID transmitting at the level that we have seen in our community. We really haven't been seeing transmission in this age group. And with that information and the other data that's come out from throughout the world, we believe that elementary kids are going to be at a reduced risk of spreading the virus among themselves or to staff members.

Megan Foreman [00:11:49] Sure. So can I make another point about that? I think it's really critical that the community understands that in-person does not mean business as usual. This does not look like last August when we sent our kids back to school. We all stood outside, took pictures. Even for kids who are in person. There are a lot of mitigating criteria, and that's just a very fancy word for saying ways that we are going to change the school day to keep people from being exposed to the virus. So we are going to ask students to distance, which is going to be hard. But I am continually amazed by the creativity elementary school students and staff show when they are trying to think about new ways to do things. Kids are really resilient. We're going to change the way that lunchrooms look. We're going to change the way that specials look at the the higher grades. We're going to also change the way that they maybe move in the hallways and the ways that they change classrooms throughout the day. So that is out there. And all of the districts have communicated very, very lengthy plans with their families. So I think that everyone needs to bear in mind that there are a lot of changes that we will see. And another one is masks, which are an excellent way for people to keep their respiratory droplets to themselves instead of just your hands and everything.

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:13:12] And, you know, schools around the around the world have reopened generally under very different circumstances than we have. We have much higher community transmission than a lot of these countries have seen. And but most of them have been able to do that successfully without having large scale outbreaks in their school systems. The one exception was Israel, who when they reopened, they very quickly expanded. And because of a heat wave in that country and a lack of air conditioning in the buildings ended up removing their masks for the age groups while they were in school. And even in that situation, we predominantly saw spread in their middle and high school age groups. So, again, really, those elementary school kids seem to be protected from this large scale spreading events.

Dr. Sanmi Areola [00:13:54] We're able to cohort them. We're able to keep their groups together. And it's not going to be like they were when they were in school in 2019. There's going to be physical distancing. Where you combine physical distancing, wearing masks, cohorting we feel like we have reduced the risk significantly in this population.

Theresa Freed [00:14:12] If and when a student or staff member becomes sick and test positive for COVID-19. How should the school address that and will other children and staff be required to quarantine at home and for how long?

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:14:24] Absolutely. So let me first say that trying to control communicable diseases or infectious diseases in schools is something that we've been doing for a very long time. We have a really great relationship with our school nurses here in Johnson County among the all the school districts, and we've already worked with them quite a bit. Whenever there are outbreaks of chickenpox or pertussis, whopping cough or anything like that. So these kinds of protocols are pretty typical for public health and for school districts to be managing.

Megan Foreman [00:14:52] I think moving forward too. It's these are things that we in public health have done for a long time. But for many families out there, they're brand new. So we're going to have to sort of learn together what issues like isolation and quarantine and household contacts mean. But I would say that as we move into schools, we are doing training with school nurses about contact tracing, which means you have a kid or a staff member that tests positive in school. Who have they been around? And an exposure is someone who has been within six feet of you for longer than 10 minutes. Now and masking certainly helps with that. Social distancing helps with that. All of these other pieces are the types of questions that a case investigator from the health department is going to call and ask families. We are also going to be working with schools and school personnel to understand where children have been or staff members have been in the building and where their potential exposures were during the day. So we can work together as a community on some of this if you know our families, when we are doing case investigations, pick up the phone. Expect to hear from the health department, are truthful and share their exposures and their contact information so that we can follow up and make sure that we're basically building a wall around the people who were exposed and stopping the transmission of that disease.

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:16:19] Absolutely. And I think our school nurses throughout the county are very well suited for this because many of them have actually volunteered with us over the summer doing these exact case investigations for community members as part of our Johnson County Department of Health and Environment team. I do think something worth noting is, as Dr. Areola said, we will have cases, there will be instances where individuals in our schools do have COVID because it the community transmission. There's so many cases in our community right now. There will be instances where individuals are sent home for 14-day quarantine, which is our typical time period. So I think that it's important that families understand as we move into the school year, if your child is in school, there may be a time where you're going to have to adjust for that time for them to be home.

Theresa Freed [00:17:05] All right. So the whole reason we're doing this is really to empower parents, teachers and others to make good decisions about the upcoming school year. So any final words of reassurance that we can give them for that?

Elizabeth Holzschuh [00:17:17] I'm very confident in our ability to work with our school nurses to monitor what's going on in our schools, in our classrooms, to identify those kids and to identify potential transmission. The reality is, is we can't keep coronavirus out of our schools. There's just no way we unfortunately cannot build a bubble around them. And our community transmission is simply too high to be able to say that with any level of confidence that it's not going to get in. It's about individual choices and what's best for you and your family moving forward. And I will say from our side, from the Department of Health and Environment and from our school districts, we are working very closely to make sure that we are aware of what's going on. And we are watching this exceptionally closely because keeping our kids healthy is our priority. And so we're going to work together to make sure that happens.

Dr. Sanmi Areola [00:18:04] And we acknowledge the concerns that teachers, staff and parents have. No question about that. We are going to keep working to improve not just our processes, but the guidelines that we put out as my information is learned. And as we review things and again, both Megan and Elizabeth are parents. They are moms. That's part of what we think, conveying that to you. People that are going through this same thing and making decisions. Obviously, you have to make a decision that is that is best. That is best for you. I will reiterate that if we want schools to open in the least restrictive way possible. This is the time to act. We need to work collectively to lower the level of transmission in the community. It is very important to keep for to keep this in mind. It's not a time to host parties. This is not a time to allow your children to attend one. It's not a time to go to bars or crowded events. Everyone needs to wear a mask. We need to practice physical distancing and stay at home. Coaches have tremendous influence on athletes. We don't. You don't really want one person's indiscretion to be the reason why you can practice or play again. And also teachers have a role to play in educating students, biology, teacher, science teachers help them understand the reason why physical distancing is important. Help them understand and understand why masking is important. And I remain convinced that if we do this things collectively, we can drive the level of transmission to a place where we feel safer, more confident that we can open our schools safely.

Theresa Freed [00:19:58] And we'll have a link to the full town hall in our show notes. Next, we have with us Eldonna Chesnut, also with the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment to talk about the new child care guidance. Thanks for joining us. Thank you. All right. Well, first off, just tell us a little bit about what you do for the county.

Eldonna Chesnut [00:20:16] So basically I'm the division director for child care licensing. And we are contracted with the Johnson with the state, KDHE, Kansas Department of Health and Environment. So essentially, we do the legwork. We do the work boots on the ground. You might say for the for the state, but at the county level, we're basically responsible for all of the child care visits. As far as the regulatory visits, and we also offer technical assistance and classes.

Theresa Freed [00:20:42] OK. And I imagine just with the coronavirus, this has been a very challenging time for your your office. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Eldonna Chesnut [00:20:51] So we've been working very hard to be a resource and a support for our providers. So we're trying to make sure that we're staying current on the most current research etcetera and providing them with guidance and recommendations and answering their questions. My staff have also jumped into the response effort. We're also been helping with the disease investigation and the contact tracing, which sometimes is really beneficial to our providers in the fact that they're already talking to somebody they know and have a comfort level with. Yes, it's been a very busy time for us.

Theresa Freed [00:21:21] And can you talk a little bit about the guidance that was recently released pertaining to child care providers?

Eldonna Chesnut [00:21:27] We're asking for guidance there. What should we be doing? We want to do what's right. We want to do what's best for the kids, but we don't really know what that is. So we put together a document working with our epidemiologists staff, basically where the goal was to that providers to have something in hand that they could say, here's what I'm supposed to be doing. And also for them to share with parents that's needed because parents are are nervous and don't know what's the right thing to do? We created one for centers and one for homes, because obviously they're two different environments. So we do need to treat them differently. So basically it starts out with screening, which we've been telling providers to screen kids for months now for the COVID-related symptoms. So it kind of starts out with telling them what to do for screening where resources are for that. And then we talk about mask usage that's probably been a really big hot button here lately and it's hard to know what's the best thing to do. But we do go into a mask usage for day care staff first. And our recommendation is that daycare staff should be wearing masks, especially in the center and the preschool or school age setting, because there is a greater number of kids in one space or greater risk. Of course when they go to lunch break or out on a playground greater than six feet away from anybody. There's times for them to take mask breaks. When they're in classroom and interacting with kids, they should be wearing masks. We also talk about children. You know, when should children wear a mask and as the guidance and the research, everything continues to change rapidly. We have been of the mindset until very recently that we are trying not to have kids wear masks just because it's so hard for young kids especially to wear a mask. Understand what you know, why they need to do this to keep their hands off of it, to leave it alone, not be trading masks with their friends or anything like that. So we've really been trying hard to keep a other policies and practices in place that would make the kids to not have to wear masks. However, with a more current research and with the growing numbers of cases, we've really come up to the fact that science says that we need to do this. So for kids kindergarten and up, we're now requiring them to wear masks. We're also trying to be as much as possible and got in coordination with the schools. You know, what they're going to be requiring and especially for our school age kids. It appears that for the schools that go back live that, they're going to be wearing masks in a lot of places. So if we can kind of start working with them in the daycare's, which is going to make it easier for the schools and the kids and the parents when they get back into school. So like I say we do are asking for kids to wear a mask when they are in the classroom. We also addressed of the big questions we are having on providers as well. I have somebody that symptomatic. What do I do? So we try to get guidance in there for symptomatic individuals and we broke it down by staff and kids. So again, they've got more. Instead of feeling like they were just coming out there on a limb or feeling like they had an emergency, call us, what do I do for each case? We try to kind of break it down for them. We then went into management of a positive individual and again broke that down by my staff and by children. We have been trying to get as much flexibility as we can. So that's one of the changes in this guidance document, is we've tried to put in place practices that if a facility has just like that's been wearing masks where all their teachers are masked and they have one staff that is positive. And they've all the adults have been wearing masks that we're able to kind of give them more flexibility now. Well, you have shut down the whole room or you have to shut down your facility. We're trying to give them the option of cohorting classrooms, which is brand new to us. We have been encouraging stable classrooms now for a couple of months. But as far as actually having a positive. Trying to give them the options to keep kids and keep kids in care, keep the parents working, you'll give them a facility more option. That's a lot of our facilities have been struggling with COVID and with the expenses and trying to keep staff there. And so we just feel this helps to helps keep the kids safe, keep the staff safe, but also keeps the daycares open.

Theresa Freed [00:25:41] Making sure that children, especially young children, are not spreading COVID, among other children. You know, just with a flu season, you think about like extra extra handwashing and, you know, the runny noses and keeping toys clean and things like that. So what kind of an extra challenge is this to, especially when you're looking at children under five?

Eldonna Chesnut [00:26:06] They should be screening everybody when they arrive. They should be checking temperatures doing the screening protocol and regulations, says all children should wash their hands when they arrive anyway. So we just want to make sure that those those times and regulations are really being enforced. Plus, so essentially, you're right in on the fact that handwashing is very, very important and teaching. Helping teach kids not to be touching their face and put their hands in their mouth and everything. We're asking facilities to do increase cleaning. So especially which is kind of anything during the flu season, during any kind of communicable disease outbreak, etc. We're always encouraging staff to make sure that if they see a child chewing on a toy or putting in their mouth to try to remove that toy from circulation until they have time to clean it. So and cleaning supplies is kind of a challenge sometimes, but to do the best they can to make sure that they are cleaning all touchable surfaces and washing hands and say now we're giving into the mask, that is kind of doing the best they can to keep every surface clean.

Theresa Freed [00:27:10] Can you talk a little bit about how you're ensuring there's some consistency in all of these regulations? Because we've got guidance coming down from the state. We've got it from the county. And then individual facilities probably have their own protocols. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Eldonna Chesnut [00:27:27] Sure. So basically say where there are regulations in place for cleanliness and hand sanitation, for exclusion of disease and those kinds of things. So we're certainly that is our baseline for all facilities. And then KDHE is maybe coming out with additional guidance. But up to this point, I mean, they have not been recommending they've not been requiring masks for staff and children, that they've been kind of pretty much leaving it up to the county level that, you know, where we can offer COVID-related things. Here's the state baseline and then we can always add additional above and beyond. So we haven't really done that again until recently. But, yeah, we are very we are always in communication with KDHE bedause we're contracted with them. And if they do, issue guidance then we make sure all of our providers are aware of that guidance and they've been with COVID this is kind of really a first for us. And the fact that we've we don't normally issue extra guidance. So here's KDHE regulation, and that's what we work off of. But because of this being such a new and complex issue, we get go ahead and make sure this county level guidance.

Theresa Freed [00:28:40] So I know typically with child care facilities, you know, a certain temperature, you'll ask the children to remain home or can you talk about how it's it's a little bit different now. Are you being extra cautious just in case it's COVID or how are you handling that?

Eldonna Chesnut [00:28:58] Yeah. Basically, all over providers by regulation can set their own exclusion policy. We have always recommended a communicable disease staff always keeps our list current and updated with recommended exclusion policies as well as the state has one that they can use as well. Most of our providers do take those recommendations and just go with that. We do have some providers that will go even stricter than that. So prior to COVID, if somebody had a, for example, we'll say, a fever, if they had a fever, then with it, you know, the recommended guidance and what I would say 95 percent or more actually went with it if they had a fever, one hundred point four higher, that that child should stay out 24 hours fever-free. Then, of course, when CDC came out with their guidance from fevers in relation to COVID, it went up to 72 hours. So most of our providers did take that as a guidance as well. And they would go up to 72 hours fever-free. CDC's come back down. So where our recommendation is back to 24 hours fever free. But it is a challenge because kids have runny noses all the time and we're an allergy season. And, you know, so it is kind of a balancing act that if, you know, if a child has a runny nose, but that's normal for them. You know, the doctor says this is just allergies, then those facilities are still able to keep that child if they desire. Again, they have the right to say no, here's my policy and it may be stricter. And we do make sure they encourage that just to be consistent. That's kind of the biggest thing. Make sure that they set a policy and stick with it and that that's going to be helpful for everyone.

Theresa Freed [00:30:43] Is there a risk of getting COVID when you bring your child to a facility, go to a home and, you know, are we seeing that happening in child care facilities here?

Eldonna Chesnut [00:30:55] Sure. Well, there's a risk for a child to get COVID no matter where they go, because we have community transmission, whether it's a grocery store, whether it's Wal-Mart or whether it's daycare. So I think probably they're actually safer in daycare than some other community locations just because we have all these attritional practices in place, because we have screening in place, because there are daycare, staffers are trained in what to look for because they're taking those extra cleaning and social distancing and everything precautions because there's somebody there watching those things. So, yes, I mean, a child can get COVID anywhere, but I really think that our day cares are really doing a great job of trying to make sure they're doing everything appropriately. And they do call in, they ask questions. And I'm hoping this policy will make them feel more comfortable. So I would say, yes, there are our facilities are doing a good job. They're doing the best they can to make sure that those kids are in a safe learning environment.

Theresa Freed [00:31:51] And, of course, our our hearts go out to staff members, too, because they're putting themselves in risk, because they're having regular contact with a wide range of people. So what kind of protections are in place for them? You talked a little bit about that, the mask mandate and how that's being used in facilities but what else?

Eldonna Chesnut [00:32:11] And that is certainly a tough spot for them and for the directors and for the owners because they again want to do what's best. So, again, the staff could get COVID anywhere, just like a kid. But again, because we are trying to make those additional things. So staff most facilities are having their temperature and they're screening of their staff as well as the kids, and so that they're making sure that somebody is not coming in sick. And they we did have some that were not choosing to wear masks prior to this. But I'm hoping that if people really understand the importance of masking, that's that's one of the best things we can do to protect the staff as well, that if those staff are all wearing masks and they're not only just protecting, they're not wearing the mask just for somebody else, but because everybody's wearing masks and it kind of helps protect all of them. And then again, we are encouraging and supporting our facilities that if a staff member is sick, don't make them feel like they have to be at work. You know, give them give them the authority or the ability to say, I'm sick. I've got to stay home. It's a challenge for owners and directors because they know they have to have appropriate staff. And we have regulations to say you have to have this many staff for this many kids with a real balancing act for them where they're just doing. Again, just kind of doing the best they can. What we know that if they keep everything clean, if they wear a mask and if they screen and, you know, in a lot of our facilities, hopefully are encouraging their staff to not go out and go to parties etcetera, but follow those county recommend and those public recommendations and stay home as much as you can wear masks. Public and, you know, due to social distancing. That's probably the best thing we can do to help keep our staff well as well.

Theresa Freed [00:34:01] Can you talk finally just about why child care is so important, especially now that we've got parents and kind of different working situations right now?

Eldonna Chesnut [00:34:09] Definitely. I mean, and that's kind of a lot of the reason we're really have been helping our providers to stay open because we want them to not only for them personally, but for parents, because we know parents, if they have the ability they need to be able to work and that there may be working from home or they may be actually physically going into their office space, but they need to know if their kids are in a safe learning environment. They need to make sure that, you know what they're trying to try and they need to be able to focus on their work and not on their kids. So I think that, you know, once again, while we've been trying really to help us support our providers, that they are able to get cleaning supplies, they are able to get masks, they know what they should be doing because that's going to make it safe for the kids. And then hopefully that's going to help the parent feel more comfortable. Getting the kids outside is a great thing. And if a parent, special parents trying to work at home, they don't have time to be taking their child out to play. So if we can give them a safe environment to for that child to be getting their learning and development needs met, then the parents can be able to be a more productive worker as well.

Theresa Freed [00:35:16] All right. That makes sense. Well, thank you so much for the information. And, of course, that new guidance on child care facilities and also school reopenings can be found on our Web site at jocogov.org/coronavirus. Thanks for listening.

Announcer [00:35:29] You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JoCoGov. For more on this podcast, visit jocogov.org/podcast. Thanks for listening.