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OLATHE, Kan. — Olathe Public Schools says it will no longer require face masks for students, staff and visitors, effective next month, but they will be highly encouraged.

The mask rule will end on July 2, the day after summer school ends for Olathe students.

The Olathe school board made the decision at its June 3 meeting after hearing a preliminary report on COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the upcoming school year. The district said it’s looking forward to a return to more normal operations.

Along with face masks becoming optional at Olathe schools, visitors will once again be allowed on campus, following standard visiting rules.

Staff and students will continue to frequently hand wash, and the district’s enhanced cleaning and maintenance procedures will continue. Parents and employees will also still be required to report confirmed COVID-19 cases to school administration.

And for students who want to continue with online learning, Olathe Virtual School will be available in the 2021-22 school year. Enrollment is open until July 10.

Olathe isn’t the only local district to drop its mask rule. Just last week, Blue Valley also decided that masks are no longer mandatory, but are encouraged for anyone who is not fully vaccinated. 

Several schools in eastern Jackson County — including Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit — quickly dropped their mask rules after the county ended its mandate.

But Kansas City Public Schools says it will likely require masks throughout summer school after dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak in May.

Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools will also require masks for all students and staff — both indoors and outdoors — through July.

Every county in the Kansas City area has dropped its mask requirement, but school districts are free to do what they want.