Wichita Public Schools preparing to implement masks next week

Wichita Public Schools addresses mask mandate effective Aug. 30
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Less than two weeks into the start of the new school year, Wichita Public Schools will implement an indoor mask requirement. The mandate starts Monday for anyone over the age of three years old.

The district said it is using the next few days to prepare staff and students for the change is coming. That is why the mandate didn’t take effect immediately. The district said is also answering questions from parents about sports and activities.

“That a lot of times, you’re going to have situations where you think maybe this problem was solved and it comes back again,” said Terri Moses, Wichita Public Schools Director of Safety and Environmental Services.

The district started out the year by strongly recommending masks, but one parent welcomes the latest shift.

Katie Grover is the mother of a second and sixth-grader in USD 259. She said she has been making her kids wear masks to school. She said some children wear masks at her children’s school, but not everyone. She’s glad the district’s rule will be uniform for all students.

“I wish it would have happened prior to school starting, especially as you see the numbers, considering the positive cases and quarantines, but I’ll take it now,” said Grover.

Wichita schools have faced climbing COVID19 numbers since the start of the school year. At Monday’s school board meeting, the district reported that about 200 have tested positive with 1,600 students and staff now in quarantine.

“Certainly, we have substitutes that are available but that’s limited as well. Any time we have staff members, whether it’s for the flu or of COVID, that puts a strain on the rest of the system,” said Moses.

It’s been one week since Hutchinson Public Schools started with a mask requirement. Superintendent Mike Folks said there have been two positive cases in his district with 45 closed contacts.

“We were able to eliminate a lot the quarantined (because of masking). We did still have some that were quarantined, they’re on quarantine right now because of that exposure,” said Folks.

While no matter the district, the decisions don’t receive universal approval.

“Using the mask as a mitigating measure hopefully is going to provide as much of a sense of normalcy as possible and to keep out students and staff in school,” said Folks.

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