No masks required as elementary students return to class in Turner School District

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – School is back in session. One of the first districts in the Kansas City metro area, Turner School District, started classes Tuesday with no masks required.

Elementary students had a half day Tuesday. Students in 6th, 7th and 9th grades join them Wednesday, and all other grades will report by Thursday.

“We were really encouraged. The majority of our students showed up today wearing masks,” communications director Lauren Aiello said. “We really appreciate the choice that those parents made to send them in masks.”

Brave Turner 5th graders, including those at Oak Grove Elementary, took on their first day.

“We choose to have him wear his mask,” mom Brenda Salcedo said.

She sent her son, Caleb, to school with a mask because health experts highly recommend it, but she worried others won’t do the same.

“I’m nervous but at the same time, the only thing that I can do is talk to my son and have him take his precautions,” Salcedo said.

The school’s safety protocols made her family feel comfortable.

A lot of procedures will spill over from last year, like frequent hand washing and social distancing. Most students will eat in classrooms, in smaller groups. Others will be in the lunchroom.

The district also added a new position with funding from the government.

“If I have any students watching,” Sarah Ikerd said. “Hi!”

Ikerd is a math interventionist. Each school has one. There’s also at least one reading interventionist at each elementary school. Their job is to identify and help with learning loss exacerbated by the pandemic and distance learning.

“Across the board we have some gaps that we’re hoping to fill and support students,” Ikerd said, “because that’s our ultimate goal is to help them academically and emotionally.”

The district will continue to monitor COVID-19 numbers in KCK. Aiello said they will adjust masking and safety precautions as needed.

“Students are happy to be back. They want to be here, and we want them here,” Ikerd said.

Turner offers free take-home COVID-19 tests to its families. They also have rapid tests in schools for students and staff.

Wednesday students in KCKPS start class, and some of Olathe’s students start Thursday.

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