by Melissa Hudelson
KAAP leadership and staff have continued to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few months with a focus on supporting our members and keeping Kansas kids safe and healthy. Several KAAP board members created a group to provide direction and support for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and local school districts on how to safely return children to classrooms. The Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids (KCWK) includes family physicians, pediatricians, and mental heath care specialists who all weighed in on guidelines that continue to evolve as new information is learned about children and COVID-19. I would like to thank the pediatricians that were instrumental in bringing this document to life for their leadership and their tireless work on this effort.
Kansas children will be back to school before we know it and every county and school district will be starting the school year a little differently. In several counties, KAAP has set up meetings between local pediatricians and the health department to discuss testing and exclusion policies that school districts will be asked to follow, gating criteria, and testing capacity that will be needed once school is in session. These discussions have been informative, engaging, and very well received by both public health and pediatricians involved. I have heard from the health departments that we have worked with how much they appreciate the support of local pediatricians and knowing that they can turn to them for their expert advice during this unprecedented time.
The Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids and the county health department discussions are both examples of how important and necessary it is for pediatricians to collaborate with our health care colleagues and be a voice for child health. State and local leadership want to hear from pediatricians and respect what you have to say. I hope that a silver lining from the pandemic is a stronger, more collaborative relationship between pediatricians and public health going forward. If you would like for KAAP to help facilitate discussions in your community, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.