KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Raymore Peculiar School Board shifted gears Friday night and voted to require masks for all students.
The board vote was 6-0 with one member abstaining.
With Friday's vote, the district moved from a policy of strongly recommending mask wearing to universal masking.
Several board members said the top priority was to keep kids in school buildings and avoid quarantines.
The 2021-22 school year begins Monday for an estimated 6,100 students in the fast-growing district in Cass County.
The school district is also known for its athletic prowess.
The Ray-Pec High School football team is a 3-time defending state champion in football.
Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle shared a sobering statistic from a freshman-day event earlier in the week.
Slagle said after the two-and-a-half-hour event, 17 students had to be quarantined.
He also said the Turner School District, which Slagle described as almost parallel to Raymore-Peculiar, began the school year with a strongly recommend mask policy.
In less than a week, 10% of high school students were in quarantine, Slagle told the board.
Moving to a universal masking policy, the Turner School District avoided 60 additional student from quarantine.
The Ray-Pec board and the district administrators heard about 20 minutes of public comment.
Most of the speakers were adamant the board not mandate mask wearing, with one citing a Canadian doctor's study that cast doubt on the efficacy of certain types of masks.
They continued to shout out their opinions as the board and administrators tried to figure out what to do.
At least two of the masking opponents were asked to leave after continuing to heckle the board.
The new mask protocol will be reviewed in 21-30 days.
The next school board meeting is Sept. 9.