Kansas City health experts recommend schools continue masking after many dropped mandates

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FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2020, file photo, students wearing face masks work on computers at Tibbals Elementary School in Murphy, Texas. A new poll from The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that most parents fear that their children are falling behind in school while at home during the pandemic (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many school districts in the Kansas City metro dropped mask mandates, but metro health experts said that’s the wrong approach.

The change began last week when the Centers for Disease Control updated guidelines. It said those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks or socially distance.

Cities and counties soon updated their emergency orders. Some local school districts then changed mask requirements to align with community guidelines.

Other districts decided to require masks in schools through the end of the year.

In a statement released Friday, health departments agree that masking is the way to go, at least for now.

“It’s great news that children ages 12 and up can now receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but kids under age 12 aren’t eligible yet,” said Dr. Jennifer Watts, chief emergency management medical officer with Children’s Mercy Kansas City. “Until children are fully vaccinated, it’s important that they continue to wear a mask, along with taking other infection control measures, to prevent the spread of the virus.”

The CDC said wearing masks prevents the spread of the COVID-19 virus as well as other germs.

“Schools in our region have been able to maintain low numbers of COVID-19 cases because of masking and distancing practices,” said Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department. “We know that wearing a mask works. Let’s end the school year safely by masking up in our schools.”

It’s unclear what the plan will be for most districts going into the 2021-2022 school year. Some districts say they hope to have a plan in place before enrollment begins this summer.

If you or your child needs to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the Kansas City Health Department has a clinic Saturday, May 21, 2021. The free clinic at 2400 Troost Ave. is open to anyone who is not fully vaccinated.

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