KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Olathe Public Schools students in kindergarten through 12th grade, will have to wear masks in the coming school year, following a Thursday night decision by the district’s Board of Education.
After hours of public comment and discussion, the Board voted, 4-2, to mandate masks for seventh through 12th grade on top of kindergarten through sixth grade.
District staff strongly recommended universal masking during a presentation before the board's vote on COVID-19 mitigation procedures.
The presentation noted that the district's goal was to keep their schools in-person for the whole year and was behind the reasoning for its recommendations.
The board’s decision came after a Johnson County Board of County Commissioners meeting Thursday morning in which commissioners voted to require masks for kindergarten through sixth grade students in the county. School staff who work those environments also will be required to wear masks.
Olathe Public Schools will have to comply with the county mandate, but the board choose to extend the mask mandate to seventh through 12th grade students.
In June, the board approved protocols, which took effect July 1, that included optional masking for staff and students. That guidance allowed for adjusting protocols should the COVID-19 situation in Olathe Public Schools or the community change.
The county epidemiologist, Elizabeth Holzschuh, also was in attendance to answer board members’ questions. She said the delta variant viral load was 1,000 times higher than last year's COVID-19 strain.
When asked by a board member about if a positive case pops up in a middle school or high school where there is no mask mandate, Holzschuh said an estimated 120 students would be contact traced and quarantined.
"That actually really scares me," Holzschuh said.
Parents against requiring masking left the meeting immediately after the vote but not quietly. KSHB 41 News captured the vote and the response from parents.
Motion passes 4-2 for the students @olatheschools to be mask from K to 12th grade. Parents were upset after the vote tonight. We’ll have more details tonight on @KSHB41 after the Olympics. pic.twitter.com/HCHCuCD8Uw— Darrius Smith (@iamDSMITH86) August 6, 2021
Watch the meeting here: