PLEASANT HILL, Mo. — Two more Cass County school districts have opted to implement mask mandates as COVID-19 cases and quarantines affect dozens of students.
With no masks required in Cass County, the Pleasant Hill and Archie school districts will now require them for students and staff.
The Pleasant Hill school board voted unanimously on Tuesday night to require all pre-K through 12th grade students and staff to wear masks inside district facilities.
As of Monday, the district’s COVID dashboard showed 28 students and staff had tested positive for COVID-19 since school started on Aug. 24 and were isolating. At least 180 students and staff were also quarantining due to exposure.
The mask debate in Pleasant Hill got heated this week after a fight broke out in the parking lot.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office detained one person who got in a fight with another person taking video on their phone. Pleasant Hill officers then cited three suspects in the fight for disorderly conduct.
The Pleasant Hill school board said it will revisit the mask issue every month to consider any changes, Superintendent Steven Meyers said.
Students with documented medical issues or special education designations that make wearing a face mask unadvisable need to get a doctor’s note to be exempt from the mask rule.
The Archie school board met Wednesday night after seeing a “significant increase in positive cases as well as quarantines due to exposure.”
The district currently has 6 active COVID-19 cases and 77 people in quarantine. The district has roughly 500 students enrolled.
The board voted unanimously to require all students, staff and others in the building wear a mask. The new policy starts Friday.
The school board also voted to create a new COVID dashboard to update the community on new/total positive cases and quarantines in the district.
These two districts aren’t the only in Cass County to opt for masks after classes started.
Last week, the Sherwood-Cass R-8 school board voted to cancel classes for Friday with nearly one-third of its students impacted by COVID-19.
The school board also voted 5-1 to require masks for all pre-K through 12th grade students and staff starting after everyone returned from the Labor Day holiday.
Cass County has not had a mask mandate at any point during the pandemic, so the decision on masks at school has been left up to the districts. While most districts in the county didn’t required them at first, Raymore-Peculiar School District did opt for a mask mandate before classes started.
Last month, the state health department dubbed Cass County a COVID-19 “hot spot” as cases climbed.
From Aug. 29 to Sept. 4, nearly 17% of all Cass County COVID tests were positive. Like most areas, Cass County saw its worst spike in cases last winter, but cases have surged again in July and August as the delta variant spreads.
Missouri’s vaccine dashboard reports that 41.9% of Cass County residents have initiated vaccination. That’s below the state vaccination rate of 52.4% and below some counties in the immediate Kansas City metro, but well above neighbor Johnson County, Missouri, which sits at 29.4%.