KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the end of summer approaches and the rate of new COVID cases has recently increased once again, Kansas City area school districts are once again grappling with how to proceed.
The difficult decisions come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all Americans who live in areas with “substantial and high” virus transmission should wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
With just weeks or even days until classes start, many local school districts have already made their decisions on whether masks will be required or not — and for what grades.
It’s important to note that a federal mandate requires anyone riding school buses to wear a mask, no matter what the district decides for school buildings.
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FOX4 will update this story as more districts release information. Check below to see plans for public school districts on the Kansas and Missouri side of the metro:
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued new guidance in late July that school districts require masks for everyone age two and older while inside school buildings. But at the end of the day, Kansas school districts have the final decision.
Baldwin City USD 348 said masks will be optional when school starts this month.
Eudora has decided that masks are optional but strongly encouraged for those who are unvaccinated.
Lawrence Public Schools is requiring everyone age 2 and older to wear a mask when indoors on school district property.
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The Blue Valley school board changed its mind a few times, but eventually settled on universal masking indoors for all grades, regardless of vaccination status. The board will revisit the masking guidance at least quarterly, with the option of reviewing it at any time they choose.
De Soto USD 232 voted to require face masks indoors for all students pre-K through 12th grade, faculty and staff for the upcoming school year.
Gardner-Edgerton said it will comply with a Johnson County mandate requiring masks indoors for all students from pre-K through 6th grade. Masks are recommended for those who haven’t been vaccinated in grades 7-12th.
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The Kansas City area’s largest school district will require masks for all students, faculty and staff. Olathe Schools voted to expand Johnson County’s mandate from K-6th to all grades.
The Shawnee Mission school board to expand Johnson County’s mandate and require indoor masking for all students pre-K through 12th grade and staff.
Spring Hill will comply with Johnson County’s mandate; masks will be required for students from pre-K to 8th grade and employees in those schools.
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Wyandotte County issued an indoor mask mandate, but it excludes Bonner Springs and Edwardsville and the county’s school districts, allowing them to make their own decisions. Therefore, masks are currently recommended but not required in the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville School District.
Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools voted to require all students and staff in the school district to wear a mask indoors. KCKPS was one of the first districts in the area to make the mask decision in mid-July.
Piper USD 203 said masks will be required for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, while inside district facilities and on buses. The district said masking will be a topic of discussion at all future board meetings.
Wyandotte County issued an indoor mask mandate, but it excludes the county’s school districts, allowing them to make their own decisions. At Turner USD 202, masks are recommended but not required. The district said it will monitor COVID data in KCK and adjust masking and safety protocols as needed.
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The Missouri health department released its guidance for schools in late July, encouraging COVID-19 prevention strategies but not recommending mask mandates. However, that guidance was released just days before the CDC said all everyone in areas with “substantial and high” virus transmission should wear masks indoors.
Belton has not made any official mask announcement for the upcoming school year; however, Cass County does not have a mask mandate, and the district did not require masks during summer school. Belton said it will release its Return to School plan before classes start.
According to the district’s website, masks are encouraged for unvaccinated individuals at Harrisonville schools at this time.
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Masks are optional for Pleasant Hill students and staff at this time.
Raymore-Peculiar said masks are highly recommended for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, when indoors and physical distancing isn’t possible.
Excelsior Springs said masks will be highly recommended for everyone indoors when “consistent physical distancing is not possible.”
The Kearney school board met to decide on a potential mask mandate, but the vote ended in a tie. The district is now deciding how to move forward and will provide an update soon.
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With several schools located in Kansas City, Missouri, city limits — which has an indoor mask mandate — Liberty Public Schools said it will require all students and staff to mask up for at least the first week of school.
North Kansas City
With mask mandates in Kansas City and North Kansas City, all students and staff will be required to wear masks inside North Kansas City schools.
According to the district’s website, masks are optional for Smithville students and staff.
At this time, per a mandate from Jackson County, masks are required indoors for anyone age five and up. The Blue Springs School District intends to make masks optional for all if/when the mandate expires.
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Center School District said it will comply with Kansas City’s mask mandate, meaning anyone age 5 and older inside district facilities, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask.
Fort Osage School District will require masks for all students and staff indoors under Jackson County’s mandate.
Under Jackson County’s mask mandate, all Grain Valley students and staff will be required to wear masks while indoors.
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Grandview will require masks for all students and staff in accordance with the county’s mandate.
Following CDC recommendations, Hickman Mills said students and staff will still be required to wear masks when classes start.
The Independence School District is requiring masks for all students age 2 and older and staff at the start of the 2021 school year.
Kansas City, Missouri
Masks are required for all students and staff at Kansas City Public Schools. The district said it’s aiming to keep everyone healthy and schools open.
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Along with the county’s mandate, the Lee’s Summit school board voted to require masks while indoors for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status. The board will reevaluate the mask mandate on Oct. 22.
Oak Grove says on its website it will comply with Jackson County’s indoor mask mandate. If/when the county mandate expires, pending any updates from officials, the district’s back-to-school plan indicates masks would be recommended for all but not required.
The Raytown School District said students, teachers and staff will be required to wear face masks when the school year begins. The district said it’s following the Jackson County mandate.
With no mask mandate in Platte County (outside of Kansas City limits), at this time North Platte has decided that mask wearing in district buildings is optional.
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With schools located in Kansas City limits, Park Hill School District said it will require all students and staff age 5 and older to wear masks while indoors.
Masks are not currently required at Platte County R-3 schools — except two school buildings (Pathfinder Elementary and Barry School) located within Kansas City limits, which will comply with the city’s mask mandate. The Platte County school board will meet Thursday, Aug. 12, to go over its health and safety plan and make a decision on masks for the start of the school year.
West Platte says face masks are optional for students and staff at this time unless there is a mandate issued by the county health department.
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