Andover school board approves mask mandate for elementary schools
ANDOVER, Kan. (KWCH) - Update: Starting Friday, Sept. 3, masks will be required in Andover’s public elementary schools. The board took action at a special meeting Tuesday night to approve a mask mandate, in effect until Oct. 12. For now, middle schools and high schools are excluded.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s meeting, Andover Public Schools Superintendent Brett White said he mask mandate is necessary as the district reports rising positive cases and quarantines. He said requiring masks is an easier adjustment than trying to adjust to potential temporary school closures.
For the week that ended last Friday, the district had 38 positive student cases, up from 19 the previous week. Of the 38 cases, 24 were elementary students. The number of quarantines also increased significantly in the first two weeks of classes as more than 300 students districtwide have been out because of potential exposure. The district said this year, they are seeing more of those exposures turning into positive cases.
With a bigger spread at the elementary level, the school board split its mask decision into two votes. The motion to approve a mask mandate for the K-5 level passed 6-0.
A motion to approve a mask order for the district’s middle schools and high schools fell short in the vote count needed to pass. This means for now, there is not a formal mask requirement at the district’s upper levels.
Tuesday night’s meeting included a lot of emotion on both sides of the issue. The board heard from 22 parents signed up to speak during public comment, but others made their voices heard with multiple disruptions from parents in the crowd. A handful were escorted out of the meeting by police.
The Andover Public School Board will meet Tuesday night to discuss the current rise of COVID-19 cases and quarantines in schools.
Part of the discussion will center around whether the board should require face masks.
Last week, Andover Public Schools had double the number of student positive cases compared to the week before.
For the week that ended last Friday, the district had 38 positive student cases, up from 19 the previous week. Of the 38 cases, 24 were elementary students.
175 elementary students had to quarantine as a result of potential exposure. Districtwide, in the last two weeks, 332 Andover students from all levels were in quarantine.
The meeting will be Monday night at 6:30 p.m. in the Andover High School Auditorium.
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