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KS Education Commissioner says middle school student has died from COVID complications

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:23 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The state’s education commissioner says a middle school student has died from COVID-related complications.

Randy Watson made the statement during Wednesday’s meeting of the state’s Safer Classrooms work group. He said state health officials told him the child died this week.

However, the KS Dept. of Health and Environment could not confirm the information.

Matt Lara, spokesperson for KDHE, told 13 NEWS that state and local health officials are investigating the death.

“KDHE has reached out to the facilities that cared for the minor with a request for medical records,” Lara said. “No other information will be released at this time to protect the identity of the decedent and the family.”

If confirmed, it would be the state’s first death of a person aged 10 to 17. So far, the state has recorded two COVID-related deaths in persons aged 0 to 9 years.

The news would add to concerns over rising case numbers among school-aged children. KDHE’s weekly cluster update Wednesday showed 72 active clusters in K-thru-12 schools, accounting for 537 cases. The number is up from 63 a week ago.

The Safer Classrooms work group heard information at its meeting that, of the 63 school clusters last week, 19 percent were in schools with mask mandates, while 32 percent were in schools where they either were encouraged or with no mask policy.

The group had no data on the other 51 percent, which leaders say is a concern as they try to get a better picture of what’s working.

“They know that you are working hard to make a good policy, and to make a good policy we have to have accurate, especially data on masking, so when we’re showing over half of no responses to that, I think will see that improve over the next couple of weeks. I hope that we do,” Watson said.

The group also heard that just under 50 percent of the state’s 12 to 17 year olds are fully vaccinated against COVID, compared to a national rate of 56.5 percent.

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