The fact the Shawnee Mission School District has been able to reopen schools, vaccinate so many employees and students, and keep COVID-19 transmission low in classrooms is a public health success story. Our employees have worked tirelessly to ensure our mission to educate students continues. We have so many people to thank who have allowed us to get back to greater normalcy.
With deep appreciation, we want to highlight a partnership that made this story possible.
We are profoundly grateful to our SMSD Health Services Department, and for our partnership with the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE), for everything they have done for our students, staff, families, and community.
From even before the pandemic was officially declared, our team and JCDHE were collaborating, providing critical information, and working in partnership to keep our students, staff, and greater community safe.
In the earliest days of the pandemic, this partnership led to the creation of a community hotline, staffed with support from volunteer school nurses from across the community. They worked together to answer questions and help our community members understand and navigate new and unfamiliar circumstances.
The guidance of our county health partners, working together with the Shawnee Mission health services staff, informed the safe reopening of schools. As cases rose to exponential levels in our community, both entities worked together on case investigations and contact tracing. As our county epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuch has stated, the mitigation steps taken as a result of this partnership allowed schools to be reopened and helped keep transmission low in classrooms.
This strong partnership, joined by Children’s Mercy Hospital, led to the successful vaccination of both students and staff. By the end of April in Shawnee Mission, over 3,100 employees had received COVID-19 vaccines and 601 high school students had received their first vaccine dose.
The Shawnee Mission Board of Education recently presented an Award of Distinction to Shelby Rebeck, director of health services, and the district health services team. This year, on top of their typical responsibilities, they have guided all of us through unprecedented circumstances.
We invite you to watch this video that highlights the contributions of our health services team this year.
National Nurses Week takes place from Thursday, May 6 through Wednesday, May 12, and May 12, 2021 is National School Nurse Day. Especially during this time, we invite all in our community to thank our school nurses and all who have made extraordinary contributions that ensured the health and safety of so many in our community. As this school year enters its final days, we hope many in our community will take time to thank them and our partners at JCDHE for their extraordinary work and support in keeping SMSD Strong.