Brookings doctor challenges school district’s COVID-19 measures

She was temporarily placed on leave from her position, though Sanford did not confirm the reason for her being placed on leave.
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 11:34 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Brookings doctor who was recently placed on administrative leave is now back on the job.

Dr. Jennifer Olson was allegedly placed on leave from her position as a family medicine physician at Sanford Health in Brookings after she spoke out against the Brookings School District’s back-to-school COVID-19 measures.

During a school board meeting on July 30, Olson outlined her opinion on the school’s coronavirus plan. She said school-age children are at significantly less risk to COVID-19 than older individuals, and that the district is “reinventing the wheel for an illness that does not have a significant impact.”

“I’m just trying to be a voice for the opposite side that thinks maybe we’re going too far and scaring the community with the measures we’re doing,” Olson said during the meeting.

Sanford Health would not confirm any details about her alleged leave of absence, though they did confirm Monday that she was again seeing patients.

A video of her speaking at the meeting went viral on social media. Some have praised her for taking a stand, while others say her comments are irresponsible.

Olson’s argument reflects statements previously made by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who referenced studies showing a lower transmission and hospitalization rates. However, many teachers groups have argued that it’s not just students at risk - in many cases, teachers are in higher risk groups. The CDC’s recommends that all schools take measures to protect students and staff from spreading the coronavirus, the agency gives a great deal of leeway to states and individual school districts on what measures to enact.

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