Mask debate resurfaces as Kansas City area students return from holiday break

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SHAWNEE, Kan. — Kansas City area students and staff are headed back to class after holiday break as some districts are changing their mitigation strategies against COVID 19, others say things are fine the way they are.

Nikki Pauls DeSimone said her daughter’s life has changed since the COVID pandemic and due to school mask requirements, she said she and her husband didn’t feel it was a safe space for her Shawnee Mission East student. After years of her daughter’s participation in school Choir, she pulled her student out of the program due to the risk of COVID-19.

“After three years of being in choir, she has quit,” she said. “We made that decision, simply because of the mask wearing policy.”

The Shawnee Mission School District met Monday to discuss how school leaders can help stop the spread of COVID. While the meeting began in person, after several interruptions to board members, the meeting adjourned and became virtual.

As of Jan. 3, their masking policy is universal masking for elementary school students in the district and optional for middle and high school students. Masks are still required for everyone on buses.

FOX4 reached out to several districts across the metro to find out their plans to fight growing cases of COVID-19.

In a statement, Olathe Public schools said its policies will stay the same, including masking for everyone at elementary and high schools and optional masking in the high school as long as they meet absentee and quarantine methods. If those requirements are not met, universal masking would be required for two weeks.

In North Kansas City, policies were updated on Dec. 31 to include isolation guidelines but as of Monday, masks are still optional in the district.

As for the Shawnee Mission School District, Pauls DeSimone hopes they do what she said is the right thing.

“If we can add masks back in, it will keep everyone in school and safer,” she said.

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