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Wichita School Board approves masks starting next week

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 7:18 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Wichita School Board approved unanimously approved wearing masks indoors at its meeting Monday night.

The measure, which takes effect beginning on Monday, Aug. 30, will apply to all children ages 3 and older.

The board said its decision was on recent guidance from state and local public health experts combined with CDC recommendations.

While it was not approved by Sedgwick County Commissioners on Friday, the county’s local health officer recommended a county-wide mask mandate to help slow the spread of COVID-19, specifically the delta variant. School nurses have also reported being overwhelmed with contact tracing and daily testing of high-risk contacts, which mainly includes those not wearing masks.

Board members also received a status update on COVID-19 in the schools on Monday.

Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson said the rolling positive total for staff is 51 and 194 for students, a percentage of 0.67%. Out of 7,633 employees, 74 are currently in quarantine which is 0.96%. The district has conducted 2,191 COVID-19 tests on students and 473 on staff. Nine schools out of 90 schools are high-demand testing locations.

As a part of the board’s vote, the mask mandate will be evaluated periodically to determine whether it is advisable under public health recommendations to return to masking being strongly recommended.

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