Shawnee Mission schools keeps masks optional for secondary students, teachers

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — After a more than three-hour meeting interrupted by several outbursts from the crowd Monday, the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education decided to keep its current COVID-19 mitigation plan in place for when students return to school Wednesday.

That means masks are required for elementary school students and their teachers and optional for middle and high schoolers and their teachers.

At one time, the board voted to require masks for everyone through January 18 until it can determine its positivity rate, but that was undone minutes later.

The board first adjourned for 10 minutes following outbursts from the crowd, and then went exclusively virtual when the comments continued.

Parents opposing mask mandates for students demonstrated before the meeting.

“We’re here to support the kids being unmasked, it being up to the parents to be able to choose whether or not they mask them,” Sabrina Hardy said.

But, Megan Taylor, a teacher and parent, disagreed.

“The mask doesn’t bother my kids a bit,” Taylor said. “My little one in particular wants to wear it. He was very excited about turning 12 to get his vaccine.”

The board heard from a pediatrician and a representative from the health department. Both spoke of the severity of the Omicron variant.

Also Monday, the board was given a letter signed by 200 local doctors urging stricter measures be put into place.

The board will meet again Monday, January 10.

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