KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As students return to school from winter break, districts are discussing COVID-19 protocols.
Avery Foster, a freshman at Shawnee Mission East High School, told KSHB 41 News she is disappointed in the actions taken by her school district, or lack thereof in her eyes.
“I was very upset at the moment about how I have to go to school," Foster said. "I can't just skip school, I can’t do online school, I have to to be in person to school and because of this, because of the school boards decision, I’m at risk of getting omicron which they’ve seen, we’ve seen, is spreading very fast.”
Monday night, the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education voted 4-3 to keep their current COVID-19 plan in place. The vote comes as many have called for mask mandates in schools.
“Omicron and COVID is everywhere and if you refuse to take precautions, it will find its way to you now more than any point in the pandemic," Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said.
In the Shawnee Mission School District, grades seventh through 12 have the option of masking. Younger students do not.
Foster said the board's decision will have an impact on her second semester at Shawnee Mission East.
“Starting today, however, I want to reiterate this is the part of the plan that people often miss, is that we do have a 3% threshold in buildings," Dr. Michelle Hubbard, the Shawnee Mission School District superintendent said. "So, at any point a building were we to get to 3% of confirmed cases, presumed cases or quarantine, then we will return to masking in that building for at least two weeks or until the data is less than 3%.“
Health officials would like to see mask mandates be enforced as they say hospitals are filling up with unvaccinated patients.
“I think we would certainly support the medical and science data that all supports mask use but also vaccination and those other mitigation strategies," Dr. Dana Hawkinson, the University of Kansas Health System medical director of infection prevention and control said.
A letter from dozens of current and former elected leaders in Kansas was sent to school districts and the Johnson County Board of Commissioners requesting mask mandates for all students.
Foster told KSHB 41 News that she is happy to see others fighting for students like her.
“It’s really nice to know that there are adults that are out there who are also fighting for this," Foster said.