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KCKPS to require masks for 2021-2022 school year

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Posted at 1:03 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 23:58:05-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education voted unanimously to require masks for all students, staff, parents and visitors for the 2021-22 school year.

Face coverings must contain multiple layers and cannot have exhalation valves or vents. Bandannas, single-layer gaiters and face shields are not permitted.

Masks are not required if actively eating, drinking or sleeping but will be required on school buses. There is no exemption for students who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The recommendations were part of a one-pager that outlines the in-person practices for students and staff returning to the buildings.

"Getting our kids back in-person is our No. 1 priority," KCKPS Chief of Staff Stephen Linkous said. "We have learning loss that we need to address."

As stated in the re-entry plan, students and staff must stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms, and the district will work to provide social distancing in classrooms.

Teachers will provide in-person instruction, but virtual learning through the Greenbush Virtual Academy will be available for a limited number of students. Quarantined students will have access to virtual learning during their time outside school buildings.

"This is different than remote," Linkous said. "There won’t be a teacher meeting with them every day. It is self-paced, so that teacher can take a larger class load."

The district will provide daily, "continuous" cleaning of high-touch points and thoroughly disinfect the buildings each night, with gloves and disinfecting wipes provided in all classrooms.

Per the re-entry plan, campuses are allowed to have outdoor activities, including open houses and back-to-school events. Still, the plan "highly recommended" that grade levels are staggered during those events to reduce the number of people at a school.

Sports programs will follow Kansas State High School Activities Association guidelines and district mitigation plans where applicable, according to the one-pager.

Spectators can attend KSHAA-sponsored athletics and school activities.

The plan also states all fine arts and physical education courses will be offered under local public health department guidelines.

The district said it will look at county vaccination rates, along with community spread of the virus in case they need to revert to virtual learning again. However, district leaders said that will be highly unlikely.

"We can go remote, and the reason we can is our technology department with our finance group has done a fine job of providing a computer to every kid," Linkous said.

Tscher Manck, mother of two KCKPS children, said she believes the district made the right move.

"I don’t know if maybe the whole year," she said, "but I do think that until we know what’s going on and until we are pretty sure that it’s safe, I think that we should have some type of protection because some parents don’t want to risk their kid’s lives with the vaccine and – and I’m not judging anybody about that – I’m just saying some kids will be vaccinated, some won’t and we don’t want to put anybody’s kids at risk."

District officials said the re-entry team will meet several times throughout the school year to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to this plan.