Kansas City-area pediatricians busy with sick children

Between COVID-19, the flu and RSV, pediatricians’ offices are currently slammed shut. On November 22, the Children’s Mercy Hospital reported 153 positive COVID-19 cases. On December 6, that number rose to 426. Dr. Allison Hettinger referred two of those cases from her Preferred Pediatrics office in Olathe, Kansas. She spoke to KMBC during her lunch break, via Zoom. “I have 18 patients for the afternoon, and I’m counting,” she said. Hettinger estimated that she would see 30 patients throughout the day, which is quite busy for her. More than 2,000 COVID-19 cases were reported in the county last week, according to the Johnson County Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard. The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Kansas City, despite widespread vaccines and vaccine clinics available to anyone ages 5 and older. For Hettinger and offices like hers, “It’s definitely like a sucker punch. We were so happy when we could start vaccinating each of the phases,” she said. “And then you start to see the numbers, despite all this, going in the wrong direction. And it’s discouraging. We’re all exhausted, we’re all tired.” This week, twelve Kansas City metro school districts on the Missouri side received a letter from Attorney General Eric Schmitt. In the two-page letter, he said in part: “I hereby demand that you immediately cease enforcing all written or oral mandates, imposing masking requirements on students, compulsory or coerced vaccinations, quarantines or other ‘health regulations’ that are in any way hinder or prohibit a student from exercising their right to free and open education as guaranteed by the Missouri Constitution. “Schmitt has also asked parents to report school districts to his office,” said UMKC law professor Allen Rostron Friday afternoon.” The letters are certainly – if someone looks at them – they are very forcefully worded.” Rostron said suspension letters are not enforceable by law. “Often you want to encourage the other side to do what you want, and not fight it,” said he. The districts can choose to ignore the letter. “It would take a certain amount of courage to do that,” Rostron said. “Just because you know that you will face an enforcement action from the state, through the attorney general’s office.” The attorney general could take the districts to court over this. At least two school districts, Platte County District R-III and Lee’s Summit Schools, told KMBC they sent the letter to their legal counsel.Kansas City Public Schools and Kearney Schools told KMBC they will enforce their health regulations as the number of cases increases. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service. “A decision has been made by a judge in Cole County,” Rostron said, “which is limiting the authority of local health officials to make certain types of decisions.” to take cut. The Missouri AG goes one step further and says, “I think the same logic applies to school boards, and superintendents and other school officials.” Rostron said, “That’s not well established yet. The Attorney General is trying to make that statement.” expand and take it further.” So for school districts, it wouldn’t be absurd to take the position that the attorney general relies (that it) doesn’t really apply to school officials, because there are many differences between the two situations. “You could have people at the county health department making decisions about the schools and all the businesses in the city and what everyone does with all sorts of things,” Roston said. “That’s very broad,” Roston added, “and that’s a very different story from simply saying that a school official makes decisions and a school board, which will often be elected to do this, is very different to say that they’re going to make decisions based on how the schools are run.” Rostron said it is normal for school officials to make decisions about how schools are run. He also said that this case was decided by one judge, and that there are many other judges in the state of Missouri. Any school district case arising out of Schmitt’s letter could very well go before another judge. “They can certainly come to different conclusions about different facts and different parties, such as a decision by a school board compared to a health agency official,” Rostron said.

Between COVID-19, the flu and RSV, pediatricians’ offices are currently slammed shut. On November 22, the Children’s Mercy Hospital reported 153 positive COVID-19 cases. On December 6, that number rose to 426.

dr. Allison Hettinger referred two of those cases from her Preferred Pediatrics office in Olathe, Kansas. She spoke to KMBC during her lunch break, via Zoom.

“I have 18 patients for the afternoon, and I’m counting,” she said.

Hettinger estimated that she would see 30 patients throughout the day, which is quite busy for her.

More than 2,000 COVID-19 cases were reported in the county last week, according to the Johnson County Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Kansas City, despite widespread vaccines and vaccine clinics available to everyone as young as 5 years old.

For Hettinger and offices like hers, “It’s definitely like a sucker punch. We were so happy when we could start vaccinating each of the phases,” she said. “And then you start to see that despite all this, the numbers are going in the wrong direction. And it’s discouraging. We’re all exhausted, we’re all tired.”

This week, twelve Kansas City metro school districts on the Missouri side received a letter from Attorney General Eric Schmitt. In the two-page letter, he said in part: “I hereby demand that you immediately cease enforcing all written or oral mandates, imposing masking requirements on students, forced or coerced vaccinations, quarantines or other ‘health regulations’ that are in any way hinders or prohibits a student from exercising their right to free and open education as guaranteed by the Missouri Constitution.”

Schmitt has also asked parents to report school districts to his office.

“He’s dealing with it quite aggressively,” UMKC law professor Allen Rostron said Friday afternoon. “The letters are definitely — if someone looks at them — they’re worded very forcefully.”

Rostron said termination letters are not legally enforceable.

“A lot of times you want to give the other side an incentive to do what you want, and not fight it,” he said.

The boroughs can choose to ignore the letter.

“It would take a certain amount of courage to do that,” Rostron said. “Just because you know you’re going to face an enforcement action from the state, through the attorney general’s office.”

The Attorney General could sue the districts. At least two school districts, Platte County District R-III and Lee’s Summit Schools, told KMBC they have sent the letter to their legal counsel. Kansas City Public Schools and Kearney schools told KMBC they will maintain their health regulations as cases increase.

the precedent

The basis for the letter of termination, both Rostron’s and Schmitt’s letter stated, was the Robinson v. Missouri Dept. case. of Health and Senior Service.

“There was a decision made by a judge in Cole County,” Rostron said, “cutting the authority of local health officials to make certain types of decisions. The Missouri AG goes one step further, saying, ‘I think the same logic applies to school boards, and superintendents and other school officials.'”

Rostron said: “That’s not well established yet. The Attorney General is trying to expand and take that ruling further.

“So for school districts, it wouldn’t be absurd to take the position that the attorney general is relying on (that it) doesn’t really apply to school officials because there are a lot of differences between the two situations.”

He explained the differences between the Robinson case and the one involving school districts.

“You could have people at the county health department, and they’re making decisions about the schools and all the businesses in the city and about what everyone does with all kinds of things,” Roston said.

“That’s very broad,” added Roston, “and that’s a very different story from simply saying that a school official makes decisions and a school board, which will often be elected to do this, is very different to say that They’re going to make decisions based on how the schools are run.”

Rostron said it is normal for school officials to make decisions about how schools are run.

He also said that this case was decided by one judge, and that there are many other judges in the state of Missouri. Any case in a school district arising from Schmitt’s letter could very well go before another judge.

“They can certainly come to different conclusions about different facts and different parties, such as a decision by a school board compared to a health agency official,” Rostron said.

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