OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — As COVID-19 cases across Johnson County, Kansas begin to rise, the Shawnee Mission School District reviewed its masking guidelines for the remainder of the school year.

The school board held a special meeting Monday to discuss masking protocols and voted 4-3 to pass “Plan A” which only requires masks if 5% of students or staff in a building is out sick with COVID.

Beginning Tuesday, all children and adults in grades PreK-12 in the school district will not be required to wear masks. At the board meeting Monday it was clarified that no masking would be required for any school building unless it is above the 5% threshold.

The positivity percent in the county is at 8.9%, that’s up from about 2.5% a month ago, according to Johnson County Health Department Deputy Director Charlie Hunt.

“Even though we are in the low category, when we look at the case incidents and other metrics, we are seeing an increase, again, our incidence rate is three times higher than it was four weeks ago,” Hunt said.

Protocols when a student tests positive for COVID-19 remain the same.

The number of hospitalizations and positive cases are down significantly, according to the Mid-America Regional Council’s COVID tracker. But health experts in Johnson County say they’re seeing numbers trending up.

“[The Board is] working really hard to stay on top of the virus, it’s not gone,” Chief Communications Officer David Smith said. “We still want to make sure that we do everything we can keep kids safe and to make sure that we can keep our schools open.”

Individuals who test positive for COVID will be required to stay home for five days and wear a mask for 6 to 10 days once they return to school.

“We’re not proposing any changes in how we deal with individuals who do test positive,” Smith said. “So, there’s a required quarantine for individuals testing positive and that would continue. This would simply be for what we do in schools, depending on what the numbers are.”

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