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Shawnee Mission School District to require masks for some students

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 9:10 PM CDT
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SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan. (KWCH) - The Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education will require masks for elementary school students for the upcoming school year.

The board approved a proposal, 6-1, Monday night, requiring masks for “all children at the elementary level until such a time as all students have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.” The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is only available for children ages 12 and up.

“We will have situations in which buildings may be shut down or children are not able to attend in person and we know how disruptive that was last year,” said Shawnee Mission Board of Education President Heather Ousley. “Keeping that at the forefront of our mind, the guidance indicates we need to have the mitigation in place.”

Masks will not be required for middle and high school students, but they will be strongly recommended. Although, all bus riders will have to wear masks.

The district said staff members will not have to wear masks as long as they can show proof that they have been fully vaccinated.

”We have some concerns about the logistics in regards to enforcement,” said Ousley. “But I think that overall the end goal of providing continuous in-school learning was really the motivating force for the board on Monday night.” 

Johnson County health officials warned the board the delta variant could lead to outbreaks of COVID among unvaccinated children.

”This is a split community, some folks want their kids to mask and others feel like they are tired and done with it,” said David Smith, Shawnee Mission School District’s chief communication officer. “Ultimately, the board said very clearly they wanted kids in school and needed to have kids in school and right now masks are the best way to assure that.” 

The vote from the Shawnee Mission BOE came before the CDC’s recommendation to enforce masks in schools for grades k-12 on Tuesday.

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