Shawnee Mission’s mask mandate will end for middle, high school students in January

Education

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Shawnee Mission school board has decided that most students will continue wearing masks until January at the earliest.

Students in grades 7-12 will no longer be required to wear masks in school beginning Jan. 3.

The district also is modifying its quarantine procedures with a new test-to-stay program for students who’ve been exposed to a positive coronavirus case.

Instead of staying home under quarantine, students exposed to the virus can remain in school if they undergo testing for seven days and wear masks at all times, including while participating in extracurricular activities.

The other big Johnson County school districts, Blue Valley and Olathe, said they will drop mask requirements for older students on Nov. 29.

“I think it’s going to become exceptionally difficult to enforce with our neighbors having made that change and they are making the change more quickly than what we are recommending,” said Michelle Hubbard, superintendent of Shawnee Mission schools. “We felt strongly that we wanted elementary students to have access to the vaccine before we made that recommendation.”

Under the district’s plan, any school building that reaches an infection rate of 3% or higher, would have to re-implement mask requirements within that building for at least 14 days.

This action comes as the number of new coronavirus cases is heading up again nationwide. Just to the north, health officials in Minnesota say they are seeing an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases again.

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