KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the end of summer approaches and the rate of new COVID cases has recently increased once again, Kansas City area school districts are once again grappling with how to proceed.
The difficult decisions come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all Americans who live in areas with “substantial and high” virus transmission should wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
With just weeks or even days until classes start, many local school districts have already made their decisions on whether masks will be required or not — and for what grades.
It’s important to note that a federal mandate requires anyone riding school buses to wear a mask, no matter what the district decides for school buildings.
FOX4 has updated this story as of Aug. 23. Check below to see plans for public school districts on the Kansas and Missouri side of the metro:
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued new guidance in late July that school districts require masks for everyone age two and older while inside school buildings. But at the end of the day, Kansas school districts have the final decision.
Douglas County has unanimously approved a mask mandate for all children age 2-11. Baldwin City USD 348 previously decided that masks would be optional at school for all, but the district is currently complying with the county’s mandate for these age groups. Otherwise, masks are optional for older students and staff.
Douglas County has unanimously approved a mask mandate for all children age 2-11. Masks are optional but strongly encouraged for older students and staff, but the district is complying with the county’s order for these younger children.
Lawrence Public Schools is requiring everyone age 2 and older to wear a mask when indoors on school district property.
The Blue Valley school board changed its mind a few times, but eventually settled on universal masking indoors for all grades, regardless of vaccination status. The board will revisit the masking guidance at least quarterly, with the option of reviewing it at any time they choose.
De Soto USD 232 voted to require face masks indoors for all students pre-K through 12th grade, faculty and staff for the upcoming school year.
Gardner-Edgerton initially was complying with a Johnson County mandate requiring masks indoors for all students from pre-K through 6th grade.
But starting Aug. 30, masks will also be required for middle and high school students, per a school board vote. The board will revisit masking requirements during the regular board meeting on Sept. 13.
The Kansas City area’s largest school district will require masks for all students, faculty and staff. Olathe Schools voted to expand Johnson County’s mandate from K-6th to all grades.
The Shawnee Mission school board to expand Johnson County’s mandate and require indoor masking for all students pre-K through 12th grade and staff.
Spring Hill will comply with Johnson County’s mandate; masks will be required for students from pre-K to 8th grade and employees in those schools.
On Wednesday, Bonner Springs/Edwardsville issued an indoor mask mandate that will include Pre-K through 12th grades students and all district staff. The district superintendent said they anticipate the mandate will be in place through Oct. 4.
Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools voted to require all students and staff in the school district to wear a mask indoors. KCKPS was one of the first districts in the area to make the mask decision in mid-July.
Piper USD 203 said masks will be required for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, while inside district facilities and on buses. The district said masking will be a topic of discussion at all future board meetings.
Wyandotte County issued an indoor mask mandate, but it excludes the county’s school districts, allowing them to make their own decisions. Turner started the school year with masks optional, but after one week, COVID-19 cases climbed and the district implemented a mandate for all students.
The Missouri health department released its guidance for schools in late July, encouraging COVID-19 prevention strategies but not recommending mask mandates. However, that guidance was released just days before the CDC said all everyone in areas with “substantial and high” virus transmission should wear masks indoors.
Belton School District says masks are optional but encouraged this school year.
According to the district’s website, masks are encouraged at Harrisonville schools, especially when social distancing isn’t possible, and they are required when directed by a staff member in special circumstances.
Masks are optional for Pleasant Hill students and staff at this time.
The Raymore-Peculiar school board voted to make masks mandatory for all students and staff. At this time, Cass County does not have a mask mandate.
Excelsior Springs said masks will be highly recommended for everyone indoors when “consistent physical distancing is not possible.”
The Kearney School District will requiring all students, staff and visitors to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status for this school year.
With several schools located in Kansas City, Missouri, city limits — which has an indoor mask mandate — Liberty Public Schools said it will require all students and staff to mask up for at least the first week of school.
North Kansas City
With mask mandates in Kansas City and North Kansas City, all students and staff will be required to wear masks inside North Kansas City schools.
Smithville’s school board voted to approve universal masking indoors for students and staff starting Aug 16. The decision came after the Clay County Health Department recommended masks at school.
At this time, per a mandate from Jackson County, masks are required indoors for anyone age five and up. The Blue Springs School District intends to make masks optional for all if/when the mandate expires.
Center School District said it will comply with Kansas City’s mask mandate, meaning anyone age 5 and older inside district facilities, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask.
Fort Osage School District will require masks for all students and staff indoors under Jackson County’s mandate.
Under Jackson County’s mask mandate, all Grain Valley students and staff will be required to wear masks while indoors.
Grandview will require masks for all students and staff in accordance with the county’s mandate.
Following CDC recommendations, Hickman Mills said students and staff will still be required to wear masks when classes start.
The Independence School District is requiring masks for all students age 2 and older and staff at the start of the 2021 school year.
Kansas City, Missouri
Masks are required for all students and staff at Kansas City Public Schools. The district said it’s aiming to keep everyone healthy and schools open.
Along with the county’s mandate, the Lee’s Summit school board voted to require masks while indoors for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status. The board will reevaluate the mask mandate on Oct. 22.
Oak Grove says on its website it will comply with Jackson County’s indoor mask mandate. If/when the county mandate expires, pending any updates from officials, the district’s back-to-school plan indicates masks would be recommended for all but not required.
The Raytown School District said students, teachers and staff will be required to wear face masks when the school year begins. The district said it’s following the Jackson County mandate.
With no mask mandate in Platte County (outside of Kansas City limits), at this time North Platte has decided that mask wearing in district buildings is recommended but ultimately optional.
With schools located in Kansas City limits, Park Hill School District said it will require all students and staff age 5 and older to wear masks while indoors.
At this time, face coverings will be required for all persons aged 3 and older while indoors at Platte County School District buildings when physical distancing cannot be maintained. The board will be reviewing this strategy as needed.
West Platte says face masks are optional for students and staff at this time unless there is a mandate issued by the county health department.