Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Board votes to require masks for students and staff for upcoming school year

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Board voted Tuesday night to require all students and staff in the school district to wear a mask. Those with specific health conditions will be exempt.

Masks will also be required on all school buses.

Early childhood education through 12th Grade students will receive in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidance this week for the 2021-22 school year, which includes wearing masks indoors, as well as in-person learning, and vaccinations.

The masking recommendation is in direct contrast to guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control last month. The CDC’s latest guidelines said vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings.

In contrast, the AAP said it strongly recommends everyone older than age 2 wears masks, regardless of vaccination status. The AAP does support the CDC’s recommendations for building ventilation, testing, quarantining, cleaning and disinfection in the updated guidance.

“In Wyandotte County, less than 35% of our residents are vaccinated so safety of our students and staff is number one, so getting the masks on, they are not always the most comfortable thing, they are going to keep us safe,” said Stephen Linkous with KCKPS.

The Blue Valley School District in Overland Park decided Monday night that masks and vaccinations will be optional in the upcoming school year, at least for now.

“The push we’ve gotten is for most people to come back, but we are also understanding, there are certain circumstances, whether that’s health, personal beliefs, or what have you, we want to be supportive of the families and if they feel virtual will be best for their student, we are going to provide that,” Linkous said.

Most metro school districts are sticking to current masking policies, but said they regularly monitor guidance from local and state health officials.

The new recommendations will be a topic of discussion at the Shawnee Mission and Spring Hill School Board meetings July 26.

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