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DE SOTO, Kan. — The De Soto School District, USD 232, voted Monday night 4-3 to require face masks indoors for students pre-K through 12th grade, faculty and staff for the upcoming school year.

Initially masks were going to be optional this upcoming school year but the board decided to revisit the issue after COVID-19 cases increased.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidance last month for the 2021-22 school year, which includes wearing masks indoors, as well as in-person learning, and vaccinations.

Last month the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment updated its guidance for the upcoming school year asking for mandatory universal masking for all grades in which students ar enot yet eligible for vaccination.

Last week the CDC released updated guidance recommending universal masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors in all K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC also updated community guidance recommending that vaccinated and unvaccinated inidviduals wear masks indoors.

For the week of July 18, there were 122 COVID-19 cases reported per 100,000 residents in Johnson County. This is a 239% increase from June.

According to the district’s website it will continue to collect vaccination information from families in accordance with district policy and state law. If families provide verification of voluntary COVID-19 vaccination, the information will be recorded. Individuals will not be excluded from school based solely on COVID-19 vaccination status. 

The district said it will, at times, partner with outside agencies to provide space for voluntary vaccination clinics.

Most metro school districts are sticking to current masking policies, but said they regularly monitor guidance from local and state health officials.

The first day of school for De Soto students is August 12.