SHAWNEE MISSION, KS (KCTV) -- A new policy from health officials in Kansas has parents of children who had to stay home sick with the flu scrambling.
Jenny Agnew is a very busy mom of three and knows all too well how rough it can be when they’re sick. She was as shocked to learn the state of Kansas is asking parents to keep children home for seven days if they tests positive for the flu.
“Seven days seems like a long time,” Agnew said. “For any mom that’s got little ones at home, if you hear your kid needs to be home for seven days, you have a total stress response to that, that amount of time.”
Forget about the old “fever-free for 24 hours without Tylenol or ibuprofen” golden rule parents have learned and live by. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is asking for the week-long quarantine “from the onset of their first symptom.”
“If children are diagnosed with influenza and they have tested positive for influenza by any test method, then they need to be home for seven days from the onset of their first symptom,” a statement from the health department read. “The influenza isolation regulation is in place in order to reduce the risk of transmission to others.”
Shelby Rebeck, Director of Health for Shawnee Mission Schools, said schools were alerted to the isolation regulation last March after Johnson County saw its worst flu season in 40 years.
“Previously it had always been 24 hours fever-free and then you can return, but we know you’re still shedding that flu virus, so I think the state just wanted to keep our kids as healthy as we can,” Rebeck said.
Some moms told KCTV5 they worry about their kids falling behind after seven days away or missing out on planned activities. For now, though parents in Kansas will just have to deal with the new regulation.
“Our main concern is your student’s health,” Rebeck said. “And we can catch up on school work and have a mini Valentine’s celebration when they return, but this is about keeping our students healthy.”
In addition to students, the Shawnee Mission School District also wants its employees who test positive for the flu to stay home for seven days as well.
KCTV5 did ask the state for clarification on whether this is a recommendation or mandatory. While they said the rule is mandatory they also noted, “if the child had this year's flu vaccine or was given an antiviral medication, the local health officer can make a determination to shorten the isolation period.”