Great news in the Shawnee School District! Article below by Juliana Garcia of the Shawnee Mission Post reporting on the board’s decision to allow mask choice in 2022. Link to full article here:
Shawnee Mission is the latest Johnson County public school district to adjust its mask rules for older students, but the district’s current requirement that all students in all grades wear masks will remain in effect through the fall semester.
The board of education on Monday approved new COVID-19 mitigation measures for the spring semester which begins in January, including the elimination of a mask requirement for all secondary students in middle and high school.
Shawnee Mission middle and high school students will need to remain masked until the end of the fall semester, but when they return from winter break on Jan. 3, masks will be optional in grades 7 through 12.
‘The struggle is real’
SMSD Superintendent Michelle Hubbard told the school board Monday that district administrators had previously discussed removing mask requirements for secondary students when vaccines became more widely available to children and COVID-19 cases in Johnson County continued their weeks-long downward trend.
That, coupled with neighboring Johnson County districts rolling back their requirements, led Shawnee Mission officials to present an optional mask plan to the school board Monday.
If the district didn’t cut the mask requirement, Hubbard said, it would be “exceptionally difficult” for school staff to handle enforcement in the spring.
“The struggle is real,” Hubbard said. “Our teachers and principals are fighting this fight everyday. You all get the emails from both sides of this, right, those principals and teachers are seeing that as well. I think it’s going to become exceptionally difficult to enforce with our neighbors making the change, and they’re making the change even more quickly than what we are recommending.”
Elementary students, along with teachers, staff and visitors in elementary schools, will still be required to wear masks because of a countywide public health order that remains in place.
All bus riders, including secondary students, will need to wear masks on school buses due to a federal mask mandate that applies to public transportation.
And middle and high schools could reimplement mask rules under the district’s new policy.
If a school building’s percentage of students in exclusion and quarantine hits 3% or more, masks will be required again for at least 14 days — or until the percentage of recommended exclusions and quarantines drops below 3%.