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Sheriff, school board undercut Kansas county’s COVID rules

August 18, 2021 GMT

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The sheriff and a local school board in Kansas’ most populous county have set COVID-19 policies conflicting with county rules on testing and masks.

Johnson County in the Kansas City area is requiring unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly testing starting next week, but the sheriff’s department is exempt. Sheriff Calvin Hayden is not requiring his nearly 600 employees to abide by the requirement.

“The sheriff felt our employees know the best for themselves and the best for their families and felt that employees can make that decision,” spokesperson and detective Sgt. Jesse Valdez told The Kansas City Star.

The Johnson County Commission earlier this month also required masks indoors for students and staff in schools from kindergarten through the sixth grade.

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But during a special meeting this week, the school board in the Spring Hill district in southern Johnson County voted 5-1 to allow parents to sign a form certifying that children have medical or mental health issues qualifying them for an exemption. Previously, a health care provider’s signature was required, The Star reported.

Board member Ali Seeling said the board is giving parents “the freedom to make health decisions for their own children.”