Blue Valley School District to hold hearing on mask rule after parent files challenge

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Blue Valley School District board of education will hear a formal challenge to its requirement for students and staff to wear face masks. The process is allowed under a Kansas Senate bill, recently signed into law.

Students staying spread out and wearing masks have been the norm during the pandemic, but that could be changing in Kansas.

“I think it’s very promising, and I’m very happy people are coming forward because if we don’t stand up and say this isn’t right, then nothing’s going to change,” Blue Valley parent Carrie Jones said.

Blue Valley Schools will hold a hearing Tuesday after a parent filed a challenge to its mask mandate, as required by newly enacted Senate Bill 40.

In a letter to parents, the district said: “With 40 days remaining in the school year, masks continue to be an important part of the district’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts to keep all students in school full-time.”

“I signed up to be an emergency sub, so I’ve been in a lot of the schools here in Blue Valley over the past six, seven months, and the kids are so willing to keep the masks on because they know what the alternative is — it’s at home, all day every day,” said Michelle Mitchell, a Blue Valley parent.

Mitchell’s family has only gone through one quarantine the entire school year, and she believes masks, along with other steps schools are taking, are helping keep everyone safe and in their classrooms.

“We’re doing what we need to do in the schools to minimize the spread. We have less than 20 cases across the whole district this week now they’re announcing, so they’re doing it right,” Mitchell said.

But Jones is fed up with COVID-19 restrictions and hopes Blue Valley’s hearing will result in mask mandates ending.

“There’s no set date, so if we don’t stand up now, we’re just going to continue to live like this,” she said. “With the lockdowns, what was it two weeks? And look where we’re at now. So we have to stand up now for no masking.”

Blue Valley is required to hear the parent’s challenge to the mask requirement next week and make a ruling. 

If the challenger isn’t satisfied with the decision, they have the option to sue in district court. The courts could require relief, which could include payments or changing district COVID-19 policies, including elimination of the district-wide mask requirement.

The hearing is open to the public, but seating is limited. Find more information about how you can register to attend or submit a comment with the school board.

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