After complaints, Olathe parents weigh in on district’s mask mandate at hearing

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OLATHE, Kan. — Olathe Public Schools held its first Senate Bill 40 hearing Tuesday to discuss its mask requirement.

The new Kansas law requires districts to hold public hearings when a parent makes a complaint regarding COVID protocols in the classroom.

Thad Schnider was the first parent to request a hearing in opposition to current masks mandates in the classroom.

“My son’s requirement to wear a mask is not only pointless but it’s actually hindering his health and his ability to focus in school,” he said.

Olathe parent Joanie Whitman said she’s glad someone is stepping up against masks.

“There is science on both sides,” she said. “To me, we have kind of gone really far on precautions, and we kind of left a lot of people out.”

Dr. Gary Morsch testified as a medical expert on behalf of the district during Tuesday’s meeting. Morsch said mask wearing is the least restrictive thing schools can do to protect against COVID-19.

“To say we are going to stop all masks and just throw that in, that’s not what our experts tell us,” he said.

The district recommended parents who oppose their student wearing a mask should submit an opt-out form. The student must demonstrate a medical need that prevents them from wearing the mask.

The district, however, maintained its stance that masks help protect students.

“You have to follow science,” Morsch said. “I mean, what else can you do?”

The hearing ended with no formal decision. The district plans to make a decision within the next week.

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