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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — A group of 26 Johnson County, Kansas, elected officials wrote a letter to the county’s Board of Commissioners urging them to end the mask mandate for students in January.

Legislators, local elected officials, school board members and the Johnson County sheriff sent the letter in an effort to drop the mandate they say is affecting students’ ability to learn phonics and to read.

Our Johnson County children in our school districts are suffering. We are seeing a greatly increased number of mental health issues, behavioral issues, educational detriment including learning loss and decreased test scores across the county as reported to and available on KSDE.

Letter from Johnson County Officials

The letter from officials also says school teachers are being affected and “feeling defeated” and families are struggling.

We are seeing teachers, administrators and staff working harder than ever feeling defeated. We are seeing
families struggle with loss of income due to quarantines, behavioral issues and mental health. Our
elementary school teachers are explaining that children are unable to effectively learn phonics and to learn to read appropriately with a mask covering their mouths and their teacher’s faces. Reading learning loss is greatly affecting all subjects and creating failure across the districts.

Letter from Johnson County Officials

With the FDA approving vaccination for anyone age 5 and older, the group of elected officials said the decision to wear a mask or get vaccinated should be up to each parent.

The group of officials asked Johnson County commissioners to end the mandate during the last meeting of the year on Dec. 16.

We are hearing loudly from our constituents and know it is our responsibility to be their voice advocating for what is best for Johnson County children and families. We can not ignore their requests to do what is best for their students. We implore you to listen and discontinue the mandate beginning January 1st, 2022 to impact the second semester of the 2021-2022 school year. Masks can still be optional as parents and teachers can weigh their own personal decisions against what is best for their students, learning loss,
virus risk, and mental health.

Letter from Johnson County Officials

You can read the full letter here.