Mayor to propose resumption of school mask requirement

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At this afternoon’s City Council Business Session, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will propose resuming the school mask requirement.

“Given the significant increase in COVID infections and based on recent discussions with school leaders, I will introduce this afternoon an updated mask rule applying to school facilities in Kansas City,” Lucas wrote to colleagues. “A similar rule was reinstituted in North Kansas City earlier this week.”

Per Missouri law, it exempts all religious institutions and would run only until Thursday, February 3, the Mayor added.

“When the school mask rule expired over one month ago, we found ourselves in a different trajectory as it relates to case numbers,” Lucas wrote. “At our schools now, teachers, staff, bus drivers, and students are being impacted deeply by COVID, leading to concern that schools may need to move back to virtual learning if mitigation strategies are not pursued—something none of us wish to see.”

The week of January 1, Kansas City had 5,000 new COVID-19 cases, compared to 1,800 the week before. Cases have been rising since late November in the city.

“The ordinance is tailored narrowly to the school environment given the high transmissibility and close quarters sustained throughout the day at our school facilities,” Lucas wrote. “We also note that the enforcement concern faced from our broader orders, including increased use of Health and Regulated Industries staff, as well as KCPD, harassment of store clerks and service industry personnel, has not been reported as a significant concern in the school environment.”

As of January 1, 55.2% of Kansas Citians are fully vaccinated, below the nationwide average of 62.3%, but above the statewide average of 53.1%.

The draft ordinance would establish a requirement for face coverings or masks at schools where children in grades K-12 attend class and on school buses with certain exceptions.

As of January 6, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) recognizes the Delta variant of COVID-19 as the predominant variant of the virus in the United States.  The CDC reports the Delta variant is “highly contagious, more than 2x as contagious as previous variants” and that “the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous variants.”  In light of these facts, the CDC recommends “layered prevention strategies, including wearing masks” to reduce the transmission of the Delta variant, the draft ordinance reads.

On December 20, 2021, the CDC identified the Omicron variant has having the potential for a rapid increase in COVID-19 infections.  The CDC predicts a “steep epidemic trajectory[y] that would require expedient public health action to prevent severe impacts on the health of individuals and the healthcare system.”  Although the CDC reports that Omicron infection may be less severe than previous infection, “given the likely increase in number of infections, the absolute numbers of people with severe outcomes could be substantial,” the draft ordinance reads.

As of January 6, 2022, worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached approximately 298 million with approximately 5.47 million resulting deaths, and COVID-19 cases in the United States have reached approximately 57.7 million with 831,000 resulting deaths. The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) confirmed 281,039 total cases of COVID-19 in Kansas City metro-wide, with approximately 3,476 deaths from COVID-19 in Kansas City metro-wide.

This article will be update following this afternoon’s City Council meeting. Watch Channel 2 live: https://youtu.be/m9N1U34LhAc.


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