100 Kansas City-area doctors send letter to school districts urging universal masking

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Posted at 5:29 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 19:26:46-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City physicians sent a letter to school districts, urging them to require universal masking in school for at least the fall semester, especially for kids under 12 who can't get the COVID-19 vaccine yet.

"It's both to protect those students who would get sick and students who would end up with potentially multiple quarantines in the fall, since we're seeing a lot more cases in town," Dr. Amy Knapitsch, a pediatrician and mother of three, said.

About 100 doctors, who are also parents in Kansas City school districts, signed this letter. They say not masking will likely spread illnesses even more and worry it could create learning disruptions that schools may not be prepared for.

"We have a very different variant than what we were dealing with last year. It is much more contagious, we know that," Dr. Kathleen Eubanks-Meng, a Lee's Summit family medicine physician and mother of a Blue Springs School District student, said. "And even if that little paper mask that has some snot on it gives them an extra layer of protection, we need to do something."

These doctors say they've seen COVID-19 and other viral infections cases dramatically increase since May and June.

"We've seen plenty of children hospitalized and a number of pediatric deaths. Yes, the numbers are small but it's not really a risk I'd want to take with my kids and I don't want anyone to be in that position either," Knapitsch said.

Their letter agrees with the latest recommendations from theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment - which all strongly encourage in-person learning with masks.

Doctors say universal masking means a reduction in not just COVID, but other illnesses with nearly identical symptoms.

"And that's what we're going to be dealing with this winter - our regular bugs in addition to increase in COVID and it's going to be an inconvenience for parents, schools, everybody," Dr. Allison Hettinger said, a pediatrician in Olathe who has three kids in the Blue Valley school district.

Their overall message:

"Talk to your physician, get your information from a trusted source, consider getting your child vaccinated or immunized if you can and just remember that we need to take care of each other," Hettinger said.

The letter in full is below:

To: Kansas City Area School Boards and Administrators

From: Kansas City Area Physicians

RE: School COVID Mitigation Fall 2021

Dear Superintendents, School Board Members, and Administrators,

We the undersigned are physicians (MD, DO) who practice within or reside within the Kansas City Metropolitan region. We comprise a wide range of clinical practice and specialties.

We agree with the newest guidelines published by experts at the CDC (July 9, 2021), AAP (July 18, 2021), and The Johnson County Department of Health (July 16,2021).

We urge schools to follow science and the experts and to enact the following procedures and policies, at a minimum:

1. Prioritize in-person learning.
2. Mandatory Universal Masking for all grades in which students are not yet eligible for vaccination. (Grades preschool - Grade 6)
3. Strongly encourage masking in unvaccinated students in grades where students are eligible for vaccination. (Grades 7 -12)
4. Strong contact tracing including following health department guidance for isolation and quarantine.

We all agree that our students need to be in schools and that they need to be safe. Enacting these policies will give schools the best opportunity to do both while minimizing potential instructional interruptions due to illness, contact isolations, and quarantine.


Melissa AH Gener, MD - Pediatric Pathology/Neuropathology, BV parent of 4

Johanna Peterson, MD - Internal Medicine

Namita Gupta, MD - Endocrinology

Angela Prato, MD - Family Medicine

Allison Hettinger, MD - Pediatrics

Shailja Parikh, MD - Cardiology

Kristin Streiler MD. - Pediatrics

Lei Pei, MD,PhD - Internal Medicine

Chaitali Mahajan,MD - Neonatology

Amy Knapitsch, MD - Pediatrics

Catherine Watts, MD - Pediatrics

Megan Thomas, MD - Maternal Fetal Medicine

Christi Bartlett MD - Internal Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Aileen Har, MD - Pediatrics

Tricia Fairchild, MD - Family Medicine

Neha Patel MD - Allergy/Immunology

Kristen Stuppy, MD - Pediatrics

Lindsay Baldridge, DO - Pediatric Endocrinology, Kansas City

Alexandria Felton-Church, MD- Pediatrics

Anne Wishna, MD - Ophthalmology - Leawood, KS

Kathleen Eubanks-Meng, DO - Family Medicine

Sheena Gleason, MD - Hospitalist/Internal Medicine. Kansas City, MO

Sobia Khan, MD - Pediatrics

Neeti Alapati, MD - Ophthalmology, Overland Park, KS

Tara Grimaldi MD - Pediatrics

Sarah Dubin, MD - Pulm/Critical Care (BV mom)

Molly Uhlenhake - Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, KCMO

Emily Hillman, MD - Emergency Medicine

Abbey Oshel, DO - Family Medicine

Michelle Boyce, MD - Ophthalmology, Kansas City, MO

Stella Zhang, DO - Family Medicine

Grace S. Mitchell, MD/MBA - Pediatric Radiology

Johanna Finkle, MD - OB/GYN, parent of 3 in blue valley district

Allison Cargnel, MD - Pathology

Geetha Kamath, MD - Internal Medicine, KC

Stepheny Berry, MD, FACS Acute - Care Surgery/Surgical Critical Care, Leawood KS

Jenifer Butler MD - Pediatrics

Jessica Newman, DO - Infectious Diseases

Megha Chandramohan, MD - Pediatrics

Colleen N Johnson, MD - Otolaryngology, Kansas City, KS

Fatima Khan, DO FACP FACOI Lawrence, Kansas

Lisa Hays, MD FACE - Endocrine and Internal Medicine

Stephanie Karnik, MD - Pediatrics

Dharshinie Jayamaha, MD - Pediatrics and Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Marci Allen, DO - Hematology & Oncology

Jennifer Mellick, MD - Pediatrics

Leslie Favier, MD, MSc - Pediatric Rheumatology

Sheila Owens, MD - Family Medicine

Jane Schwabe, MD, MBA, St. Joseph MO

Laura Parisi, MD - OB/GYN, BVN grad (2003)

Kirsten Reilly MD - Pediatrics, KCMO

Michael Reilly MD - Emergency Medicine, Olathe, KS

Laura Thomas, MD - Pulmonary/Critical Care

Joseph Donald, MD - Radiology

David Finkle, MD - Emergency Medicine, KS

Juhi Kangas, MD - Pediatrics

Jamie Reasoner, DO - Pediatric Hospitalist

Kate Robben, DO - Pediatrics

Aniesa Slack, MD - Family Medicine, live in KCK, work in KCMO

Yomi Asojo, MD - Pathology

Alison Blevins, MD - OBGYN, Olathe, KS

Jon Dubin, MD - Ortho Trauma

Julie Brown,MD - Pediatrics

Steph Swords, DO - Med/Peds

Christian A. Hettinger, MD - Urology

Kimberly Schoofs, MD - Dermatology

Nguyen Tran, MD - Allergy/Immunology

Joan Schieber, MD - Obstetrics & Gynecology

Kristin Bosiljevac, M.D. Family Medicine

Megan Loeb, MD - Pediatrician, Leawood, KS

Mickelle Hirschman DO, - Hospitalist,

Phaedra Dowell, MD - Neurology

Kathryn Hedges MD - Neurology

Nancy Hammond, MD - Neurology

Benjamin Reine, DO - Family Medicine

Natasha Burgert, MD, FAAP - Pediatrics

Kulnarin Gay Purcell, MD - Internal Medicine

Gillian Housman, DO - Family Medicine

Dylan Werth, MD - Family Medicine

Cynthia Costa, MD - Neurology

Doug Cochran, MD

Kelly Alford,MD - Nephrology, Kansas and Missouri

Sandra Archer, MD - Family Medicine

Emily Robb, MD - Internal Medicine, SMSD parent

Kallie M Foss, MD - Community Pediatrician, Olathe, KS

Stephanie Baker, DO - Family Medicine

Susan Ratliff , MD, FAAP - Pediatrics

Amy Voelker, MD

Brennen Bittel, DO - Neurology, Leawood, KS

Lynn Fullenkamp, MD - Pediatric Hospitalist

Ashley Tatum, DO - Internal Medicine

Catherine Harris, MD - Hospitalist

Michilia Harrington, MD - Family Medicine, Overland Park, KS

Rachel Holt, MD - Family Medicine

Christine Lilly, DO - Family Medicine

Sarah Boyd, MD - Infectious Disease

Mary Champion, MD - Ophthalmology

Kristi Kinder, DO - Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Amelia Sorensen, MD - Orthopedic Surgery

Kavitha Rao, MD - Infectious Disease