Kansas City implements new mask mandate for strictly schools, buses; current order will expire

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The indoor mask mandate for Kansas City, Missouri, expires at midnight but not for everyone after a city council vote Thursday afternoon.

The Kansas City Council voted 11-2 to make mask-wearing only required in school buildings and on school buses. The new school mask mandate will be in effect through Dec. 2.

According to Kansas City’s mandate update, children would need to continue to wear a mask at school and on the school bus, but wouldn’t have to in public.

It’s important to note that masks are still required on public transportation, like city buses, the streetcar and in the airport under a federal mandate.

Much of the city council’s reasoning for this comes from the Kansas City Health Department, whose director spoke Wednesday about a concern for keeping students in their classrooms this school year.

The number of new COVID cases and hospitalizations in juveniles are declining, but the agency said there are still dozens of children hospitalized because of COVID-19. Interim Health Director Frank Thompson also cited his concerns about the youth vaccination rates, most of which are under 40%.

Still, Councilman Brandon Ellington, who voted against the ordinance, said he doesn’t think COVID data in children supports the mask mandate.

“When we look at the antiquated numbers between adults and juveniles, juveniles cases are almost non-existent where adult cases are,” he said. “We’re going to rescind the mask order for adults and keep it for children, who statistically have shown not to actually acquire the disease here in the state of Missouri, in particular, here in Kansas City.”

Councilwoman Heather Hall, who also voted against the school mask rule, said it could create confusion for some districts.

“I have two school districts that have multiple cities touching them,” she said. “How do the districts say only the students who live in Kansas City, Missouri, must live with this mandate, but the kids who live in Liberty or unincorporated Clay County or Pleasant Valley don’t have to wear masks?”

But Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said he met with superintendents from Kansas City school districts. He told a council committee Wednesday the superintendents supported extending the mandate for school-aged children to help keep kids safe and reduce quarantine times.

Kansas City has been under a mask mandate since August. The current indoor mask mandate is set to expire at midnight Thursday.

Jackson County’s mask mandate remains in place at this time until Nov. 22. Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas’ mask order is in place until Nov. 18.

Johnson County, Kansas, is only encouraging masking, while the city of Roeland Park has its own mask order in place.

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