‘Our schools cannot do it alone’: Douglas County develops education-specific Unified Command team

photo by: Kevin Anderson/Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence-Douglas County health department's home at the Community Health Facility, 200 Maine St., is pictured in this file photo from July 2010.

An Education Unified Command team including leaders from health, government, business and education sectors will strive to provided a coordinated reopening and response strategy among education institutions, a Monday news release from the health department stated.

“Our schools cannot do it alone. We need the continued support of the experts across our community to make smart and deliberate decisions with the health, safety and best interests of students and staff in mind,” Anthony Lewis, the superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools, said in the release.

The goals of the team will be to minimize disease spread, reduce community impacts and protect students, staff and faculty. The Education Unified Command will be led by Lewis, Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky, Lawrence city manager Craig Owens, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Director Dan Partridge, LMH Health CEO and President Russ Johnson, University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and chamber of commerce President and CEO Bonnie Lowe.

“We believe this collaborative leadership structure has paid dividends, and we are looking to extend it because it will continue to take an intensive community effort to keep the virus at bay and reopen our schools and universities safely,” Robert Bienecki, director of Douglas County Emergency Management, said in the release.

Other goals of the Education Unified Command include identifying and coordinating opening dates, ensuring timely and consistent public information, providing child care for critical workforce, creating a uniform set of reopening standards, establishing unified testing capabilities and protocols, establishing common protocols for outbreak response and closures and developing plans and securing resources to execute those standards.

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