KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council voted on Thursday to reinstate a mask mandate for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
"What we're trying to do is make sure that people won't die from COVID-19," Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said Thursday.
It's a critical mission elected and public health officials are facing as COVID-19 is infecting the community at an alarming rate.
"For the most recent week that we've got complete reporting, we had over 5,000 new cases. So that's, that's 1% of the city's population," said Frank Thompson, interim KCMO health director.
To protect children and quell fears over the possibility of returning to virtual learning, Lucas resurrected the mask mandate for all elementary and secondary schools Thursday.
"Kids need to be in school, and the kids want to be in school. But there are some that don't want to wear a mask because they're given the option of not doing so," said Councilmember Dan Fowler, who represents KCMO's second district. "What happens they get sick? They're going to give it to another kid who may be wearing a mask. So if we can't get vaccinated, what's the next best thing? Everybody wears a mask."
But others on the council didn't see it that way.
"I feel like this is a way of us saying, 'We know better than the school boards,'" Councilmember Heather Hall of KCMO's first district said.
The ordinance passed with a 10-2 vote.
Council members Hall and Brandon Ellington were the only two who once again voted against the mandate. Starting Monday morning, kids, teachers and staff must mask up.
Exemptions from the mandate include children under the age of five or those with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, among others.
"We recognize that there is more that you can do, but you will never be able to protect everything and everyone," Lucas said. "We want to look out for those who are most vulnerable in our society or young people. And that's why we took those steps today."
If any school doesn’t comply with the mandate, the health department has the power to shut it down.
Kids will have to wear masks until Feb. 3.