Many students, teachers return without masks; doctors say unvaccinated should cover up

Education

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Some students and teachers in the Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs and Oak Grove school districts returned to school Monday for the first time without wearing masks.

All students and teachers in those eastern Jackson County districts now have the option to not wear face coverings. However, doctors at the University of Kansas Health System say children younger than 12 and other unvaccinated students and teachers should continue to cover their faces.

Vaccinations just started last week for children between 12 and 16. The University of Kansas Hospital provided video of two children receiving their shots Monday morning.

Teachers and older teens have been able to get a vaccine for weeks.

Despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that now says unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks, some school districts say students and teachers don’t have to wear facial coverings, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not.

“We would say if you have not been vaccinated, the new guidance does not apply to you,” said Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System. “You should stay masked because you are very likely to transmit the virus, to get the virus, to transmit the virus and injure others.”

The school districts in the eastern portion of the metro say they’ve based their decisions on Jackson County’s repeal of the public health order.

A spokesperson for Lee’s Summit schools says school leaders are encouraging all unvaccinated people to continue to wear masks.

KU doctors hope that by August a vaccine may be available for children younger than 12.

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