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Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas won’t renew school mask mandate as COVID cases fall

Young students sit in the laps of teachers who are masked and wearing clear shields. All are sitting on a floor in a semi-circle.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Preschool students at United Inner City Services in Kansas City listen to a lesson on Dec. 7, 2020, after teachers and staff there received a shipment of face shields that were donated by Hallmark Cards.

The school mask requirement was set to expire on Thursday.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Tuesday on social media that he will not renew the city’s mask mandate for students and staff inside school buildings when it expires on Thursday, Feb. 17.

Kansas City’s mask mandate for schools was reinstated Jan. 9 following city council approval. The council voted again on Feb. 3 to extend the mask mandate for another two weeks. The mandate was reinstated as the city was experiencing an all-time high in COVID-19 cases as the omicron variant spread rapidly.

The high numbers affected school operations, resulting in school closures as districts experienced staffing shortages.

The mayor’s announcement comes as case numbers continue to decline since peaking in January following the holiday season. According to data from the Mid-America Regional Council, daily positive COVID-19 cases stand at 615, continuing a seven-day trend of cases falling below 1,000. Since last week, the average of daily new cases has fallen by nearly 46%.

Covid hospitalizations have also sharply decreased. As of Feb. 14, fewer than 20% of adult ICU beds were occupied by patients with COVID-19.

Johnson County will reconsider its mask mandate for people in elementary school buildings on Thursday. School districts in Blue Valley, Olathe and Independence have also decided to lift their mask mandates.

As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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