Olathe schools vote for mask mandate for all students for upcoming school year

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OLATHE, Kan. — The Olathe Public School board voted Thursday night to expand its mask mandate to all students pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, joining other metro school districts.

The decision comes just hours after the Johnson County Commission voted 5-2 to require masks in school buildings where students up to 6th grade attend.

For more than an hour the school board heard public comments from people outspoken on both sides of the issue.

“I am not a doctor, but I do know this, my grandmother died of COVID-19 and I spent four hours in a room with my grandmother on the day that she passed,” Amy Geiger said in support of masking in schools. “I was masked and I did not get COVID. I spent two hours unmasked indoors with someone who had COVID and four days later I had a positive test. Six months later we are trying to pick up the pieces.”

“Masks are truly dehumanizing,” said Jill O’Connor. “They prohibit us from seeing people’s characteristics and physical traits. It erases parts of our facial expressions that could be positively reinforcing, encouraging, and reassuring.”

The board said it will review the decision in October and will discuss the topic at each board meeting.

With the district’s new policy, all students and staff, regardless of vaccination, will be required to wear masks indoors at school. All bus riders will also be required to wear a mask on the bus. Masks will not be required outside.

On the Missouri side, the Lee’s Summit School District also voted Thursday to make masking mandatory for all students and staff.

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