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Parents, students react to Wichita Public Schools latest mask guidance

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A fourth surge in COVID-19 cases just weeks before the start of school has forced Wichita Public Schools to review the district’s safety plan.

Director of Safety Services at Wichita Public Schools Terri Moses says parents should be ready to pivot just because of the changes happening in the community.

“What we’ve seen with COVID, starting almost two years ago now, that there have been constant changes in regards to how it’s affecting communities. The information that we get from the scientists from the science of the situation. So, we’ve told everybody in regards to any plan, it has to be fluid, it has to have the ability to change, and we’re going to ask people to change if necessary,” said Moses.

For now, the district will strongly encourage masks.

Some of the students we talked to on Thursday said they don’t care for the safety precaution.

“I really don’t like masks,” said sixth-grader, Arwin Hill. “They’re hard to breathe in.”

“I think it’s kind of okay,” said third-grader, Miles Carlson. “It’s kind of hard to speak and because it’s kinda hard to speak and pronounce my “r’s” it’s even harder.”

“I don’t like them because sometimes, if they’re not too tight then I have to tie them around my ears and they get really itchy,” said fourth-grader, Adeline Hill.

Some parents and grandparents say they prefer the protection, at least until students can get vaccinated.

“With the kids not having access to the vaccine right now, I think that it’s probably good for them to wear masks still,” said mom Nichole Hill.

“If the pandemic gets worse, I’d like to see them masked up,” said grandparent Pat Mhate. “I’d really like to see them vaccinated.”

“I believe they should enforce it since things are getting worse,” said another grandparent, Elaine Richardson. ‘I would like to see them have to wear it all the time.”

Wichita Public Schools will present its proposal to the school board on Monday, August 9. Along with strongly encouraging masks, the district’s recommendation will include quarantine guidelines. For example, if a student tests positive for COVID, they will be sent home. The district will allow vaccinated classmates to stay in school if they are not showing symptoms. If a student is unvaccinated, the district will require daily COVID tests for 7 days and a mask for 2 weeks.

“There are so many possible different ways whether you have close contact with a mask or close contacts that’s vaccinated, that information will be sent to our experts within the district,” said Moses. “They’ll then contact the people involved and let them know the guidance in regards to the time of quarantine the time somebody needs to be away from our schools.”

Kids say they’ll do anything just to learn in person.

“I don’t like masks,” said fourth-grader, Kenza Hill, “but if I have to go to school, I will wear masks because doing it on the electronics is not the same as doing it at school.”

Again, the USD 259 school board will make the final decision regarding masks. Moses said parents should be prepared to pivot as that decision could come just a couple of days before classes begin.

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