KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Following nearly three hours of public comment with a majority of speakers opposed to a mask mandate, the Clay County Public Health Center Board of Trustees took no action Monday night on COVID-19 guidance for schools and child care centers.
Trustees opted to postpone a decision until they look into more information regarding the duration and level of immunity after contracting COVID-19.
More than 100 people from around Clay County packed the lobby of the public health department at 800 Haines Drive in Liberty as trustees considered what to do with masks in schools for upcoming academic year.
"Do not succumb to the tyranny of the urgent," Jason Meyers, a Kansas City, Missouri, resident said.
Melanie Messer, another KCMO resident, also opposed a mandate.
"I'm here as a mother who is becoming incredibly frustrated and tired of co-parenting with the government and unelected bureaucrats that think they know what's best for my child better than I do," Messer said.
Michelle Cannon, of Kearney, shared her opposition to masking through tears.
"And the fact that we are considering going back to school putting masks on our kids. I will not be sending that if that is the case," Cannon said.
The hearing comes as COVID-19 cases in Clay County rose 36% weekly for the first three weeks in July. There's also high community transmission – with a positivity rate of 14.65% – cccording to the county's dashboard.
"Please consider mask use prudently and carefully because we don't know what is coming, we're going to continue to learn," Jo Micek, infection prevention coordinator at Liberty Hospital, said.
Matt Sameck, a Liberty resident, shared similar sentiments.
"Masking is an act of compassion for the community around you," Sameck said.
Some of the more than two dozen speakers called for the power of choice over masking, even recommending alternatives.
"If we have to mask, if we must – have you considered recommending the clear face shields, so we can actually see each other's faces?" Julianne Hutchcraft, a KCMO resident, said.
The special meeting came days after Liberty Public Schools announced it would require masks for all staff, families and visitors, whether or not they have been fully vaccinated.
LPS leaders said in an update on the district website that because several of its schools are in Kansas City, Missouri, which recently reinstated its indoor mask mandate, the mask requirement will be districtwide.
"I just ask that we not do nothing," Liberty resident Jordan McKinney said. "And I'd like to issue one more final thank you to everyone in this room. Whether you disagree with me or not. For showing up today to participate and not be a do-nothing-person."
No date was discussed on when the board will meet again.