KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Gardner Edgerton USD 231 Board of Education voted Monday night to add students in grades seven through 12 to the district's mask mandate.
The mandate, which already included children in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, will go into effect Aug. 28.
Parents who spoke during the public comment session were nearly unanimous in their disdain for masks and strongly in favor of parental choice.
Parents also said their children dread wearing their masks, and the masks make learning and enjoying school much harder.
One board member emphatically told her colleagues that she believed parents knew the health needs of their children better than anyone and did not support a mandate.
She left the board room after sharing her opinion and did not return for the vote.
Board members also heard from a health expert who told them there was tremendous transmission of COVID-19 because of the more-infectious delta variant.
District officials also said they worried about a rise in student and teacher absences because of the virus.
The district could not find an additional five substitutes recently for classes at Gardner Edgerton High School.
That meant teachers had to give up their planning periods to cover those classes.
One board member said he felt if they didn't put masks in place, the district was looking at a grim future.