Shawnee Mission schools, Johnson County library, other agencies take steps to address COVID-19 pandemic

The Johnson County Library said it's keeping its branches open for the time being, but was canceling a number of activities, including the Friends of the Johnson County Library Book Sale that was set to run through Saturday.

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Johnson County schools and government agencies on Thursday announced a slew of new steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to encourage social distancing and stem the spread of the virus.

  • Shawnee Mission School District superintendent Mike Fulton said the district would be deep cleaning schools over spring break, which starts for all students this afternoon, and working with county health officials to determine what other steps might be necessary. The district sent a message to parents Thursday saying it was sending children home for the break with learning materials “in preparation for the potential of a school closure.” At Thursday’s special board of education meeting, Fulton said the district had been in active talks with health officials about how schools should respond to the virus. “Our first and most important priority is the safety of our students and staff,” Fulton said. “We’re spending considerable time with the county department of health and we’re working with them on this issue to take whatever steps are necessary to make sure our students and staff are safe.”
  • The Johnson County Library announced a series of initiatives intended to limit the potential of the virus to spread. All library-sponsored programs and events are canceled and the use of public meeting, conference and study rooms is suspended through March 31. Additionally, library volunteers are asked not to report for duty, Friends Bookstores are closed and book donations will not be accepted. The Friends of the Johnson County Library Book Sale that was set to run through Saturday is canceled as well. However, all branches currently remain open. “As we continue to monitor the situation, we will be taking a phased response based on our evaluation of developing data about the current pandemic,” read a statement from the library. “We are working with County partners and referencing peer institutions to make the best decisions in support of our patrons, volunteers and staff.
  • Johnson County announced the annual State of the County address and luncheon scheduled for March 24 was canceled. “The county charter requires an annual report to the residents of county activities, and we’re reviewing alternatives, including presenting it electronically,” said Chairman Ed Eilert, Johnson County Board of County Commissioners.
  • The city of Overland Park announced that the Overland Park Convention Center had agreed with the organizer to cancel Naka-Kon, a three-day conference celebrating anime, manga, and cosplay, that was set to start today. “Overland Park Convention Center and Naka-Kon leadership will be working on options for future gatherings,” said the city.
  • The police departments in Roeland Park and Prairie Village canceled scheduled Coffee with a Cop events this morning. Prairie Village has also canceled the Prairie Village Arts Council’s Artists’ Reception that had been scheduled for tonight.