With positive COVID-19 tests among employees, Mission council discusses particulars of mask rules, quarantines

City staff recommended adjustments to current operations at the Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center as it continues to evaluate county and state COVID-19 increases. Among the recommendations was to close the gymnasium, as a result of conflicts between employees and patrons refusing to wear face masks while playing basketball. File photo. 

The Mission City Council Monday evening discussed Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide mask mandate and concerns with exceptions in light of news that four city staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 to date — though not all of the cases came at the same time.

Although Mission is adhering to the statewide mandate, the city council briefly discussed enforcement and current procedures when staff members test positive for coronavirus. As positive cases are identified, other staff members who may have been in close contact with that person are taking precautionary measures and self-quarantining for 14 days, City Administrator Laura Smith said.

“Unfortunately, I would have said any staff cases are too many, I don’t want anyone to have contracted this,” Smith said. “The challenge that we have found is while we have much stricter controls while someone is on-site at work with us, what they are doing outside of work is somewhat outside of our control.”

All employees are required to wear masks at all times, and are to be reporting coronavirus symptoms, Smith said. City staff reports all travel to Emily Randel, assistant to the city administrator, and there haven’t been any requests to go to an identified travel restricted area, Randel said.

Randel said the city does not feel as though the virus has been passed from employee to employee. The Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center has been struggling with staffing after employees having been quarantined, but it is unclear at what point being short-staffed becomes too big of a burden to bear, Smith said.

“We’ll do our best to stay open, but certainly don’t want to create an unsafe condition for anyone if we don’t have enough staff to keep the facility open,” Smith said.

Mission Councilmember Sollie Flora asked about specific community center guidance related to the statewide mask mandate. File photo.

Councilmember Sollie Flora asked whether patrons would be required to wear masks at all times in the Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center, which previously did not require masks to be worn on cardio equipment nor in room rentals. Other cities like Lenexa will require masks to be worn inside its recreation center, “except during strenuous activity.”

Smith said guidance city staff received will not require masks to be worn on cardio equipment spaced six feet apart, but masks will be required for those attending a gathering within a room rental. After receiving information that another staff member tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday — bringing the total positive cases the city has seen to four since the first case in April — Flora said she has concerns about not requiring masks on cardio equipment.

As for enforcement of the mandate, any violations should be reported to the county via hotline at (913) 715-3033. Police Chief Ben Hadley said the department received a call from a restaurant last week about a customer who did not want to wear a mask. It turned into a verbal disturbance, and the customer left and was given a trespassing warning.

The city will remain in phase three of its reopening plan, following state guidance, Smith said. Additionally, the city has cancelled its summer family picnic originally scheduled for Saturday, July 11, in Broadmoor Park.