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Kansas City Council votes to extend mask mandate in schools for two more weeks

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Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR
The extended mask order is set to expire on Feb. 17.

The vote was 10-2 in favor of the extension, with Councilmembers Heather Hall and Brandon Ellington voting no.

The Kansas City Council approved a two-week extension of its mask mandate for individuals in the city’s school buildings.

The vote was 10-2 in favor of the extension, with Councilmembers Heather Hall and Brandon Ellington voting no.

In early January, the council passed an ordinance introduced by Mayor Quinton Lucas requiring masks in school buildings. That mandate expired today.

The updated mandate goes into effect on Wednesday and expires on Feb. 17. It applies to students, staff, faculty and visitors in K-12 school buildings and on school buses.

The move puts Kansas City in line with Johnson County, which is set to review its mask requirement in elementary school buildings on Feb. 17.

Although COVID-19 cases have decreased slightly since spiking in January, the area's numbers are still higher than they’ve been throughout the pandemic, as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

The daily average of cases in the Kansas City area stands at 3,189, according to the Mid-America Regional Council. Hospitalizations also remain high; the daily average of new hospitalizations as of Tuesday stood at 201, down 19% from the previous week.

Since the start of the school year, Kansas City area school districts have faced staffing shortages due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases among teachers, prompting some schools to close.

In mid-January, Olathe Public Schools and Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools canceled classes after hundreds of employees in both school districts called in sick. And last week, Park Hill schools closed for two days because of staffing shortages.

The Kansas City Council’s decision to extend its school mask mandate comes in the wake of dozens of lawsuits filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt against school districts across the state, including Lee’s Summit, Hickman Mills, Independence, Liberty and Kansas City Public Schools.

Lucas has said the city will defend its mask mandate in court if necessary.

As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives.
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