Johnson County sheriff among elected officials calling for end of mask mandate for kids

kids masks classroom school children
Posted at 3:23 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 16:23:48-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than two dozen elected officials have written a letter to the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners calling for an end to the county’s mask requirements for children.

The letter, dated Dec. 8, asks county commissioners to consider repealing the county’s mandate for kids at its regularly scheduled board meeting on Dec. 16.

A county spokesperson said Monday the board is set to receive its regular COVID-19 update from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, after which board chair Ed Eilert will “request a discussion” on whether to review the county’s health order for elementary level schools in the county.

The order has been in effect since Aug. 9, 2021 and is set to remain in effect until May 31, 2022.

The Dec. 8 letter is co-signed by several Republican members of the Kansas House and Senate, in addition to Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden. Additional signatories includes several people recently elected to area school district boards of education.

“It is time to end the mask mandate for all children,” the group writes. “It is time to lead and do our part to heal the vision in our community and this divisive rhetoric.”

The letter cites a litany of concerns, including mental health and behavioral issues, learning loss, a decrease in test scores, staff burnout and family struggles that they believe would be resolved if masks were no longer required.

The group says that younger demographics have not been affected “greatly” by COVID-19 and cites the recent approvals by the FDA allowing children to receive COVID-19 vaccination. The letter does not discuss kids and transmissibility.

The JCDHE's COVID-19 dashboard rates the current community risk as high, with an incidence rate at levels comparable the spike of cases last holiday season.