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COVID-19 cases rises just weeks before school starts in Wichita

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 10:40 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In less than four weeks, students in Wichita return to school as the case COVID-19 begin to surge again in Sedgwick County. The positivity rate is now at the highest it has been since February.

Wichita Public Schools says, for now, it will stick with its current return to school plan, but that could change at any time. It ultimately depends on what the school board decides when it meets again Monday.

This time last year, a statewide order kept students out of the classroom as COVID-19 cases surged. But in 2021, the Wichita school district is determined to start the year as normal as possible.

With the delta variant spreading rapidly in areas with low vaccination rates just weeks before students return to the classroom, plans could change, especially because elementary-aged children under 12 years old are still unable to get the vaccine, and vaccination rates are still low in older ones ages 12 to18.

The American Academy of Pediatricians says that is why it is recommending school districts require teachers and students to mask up.

For right now, masks will be optional for students in USD 259.

“So, if families feel their children need to have masks on they’re welcome to do so. But we’ll keep monitoring because we know there’ve been changed since the board last met,” said Susan Arensman, News and Media Relations Manager for Wichita Public Schools.

There are no plans to require masks in Wichita, but depending on the numbers, what health officials think is best, and feedback from parents, some restrictions could once again become a reality.

“That does play a really vital role, we want to make sure we listen to them,” said Arensman.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks, it also agrees that in-person learning is still the best option for kids.

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