KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Blue Valley School District will not require masks for students and staff at this point.
This comes after Johnson County Health Department last Friday updated its guidance for COVID-19 policies in schools, recommending the requirement of masks for students who aren't fully vaccinated. The American Academy of Pediatrics also released Monday the recommendation of "universal masking" for everyone in schools.
During the Blue Valley Board of Education meeting Monday night, parents spoke to the board about the district's mask guidelines for the 2021-2022 school year.
Parents from both sides of the issue attended the meeting, but many were against a mask mandate.
"We don't need masks to keep our kids safe because COVID is not lethal to this age group," Blue Valley parent Michelle Mitchell said. "Our kids might catch it, but they are not at a high risk of having serious complications or dying from it."
Some parents were in favor of a mandate spoke about how, although COVID-19 is not lethal to children, requiring masks is about the safety of others.
"My son who is 11 is not yet eligible for a vaccine. My father is hospitalized in the ICU preparing for chemotherapy," Blue Valley parent Jason Anderson said. "I now get to decide whether it is safe for my son to visit my father, or whether it's safe for me to visit my father or anybody else in my household based on unknown, unmaksed behaviors of other people in his school and his classroom."
Anderson also cited the AAP guidance on universal masking.
The mask guidelines currently in place in the district are that masks are not mandated, but encouraged for people who are not fully vaccinated, optional for fully vaccinated people and optional for everyone during outdoor activities, according to the district.
"The decision to wear the mask or not wear the mask within our school or other facilities really should not be met with uncivil or unfair treatment, in any way, based on that individual student, family or staff member decision," Assistant Superintendent Katie Collier said during the meeting.
The current guidelines began on June 1, 2021, and will continue through the 2021-2022 school year.
Vaccination will not be a requirement for school attendance, but the district will notify parents about vaccination opportunities.