New mask mandate for grades K-12


The Olathe School Board has a meeting on Oct. 7 to discuss who gets a seat on the board.

Addison Smith, Writer

On Feb. 3, the Olathe Public Schools Administration had a meeting to discuss important matters pertaining to COVID protocols in Olathe schools. 

The issue of masks being mandatory at schools has appeared in meetings before, but had only been changed for grades 9-12. 

The email sent out to parents on Feb. 4, stated a decision had been made by the board regarding the mask mandate.

“The board approved a motion that moves all schools in the district to a mask optional model beginning Friday, Feb. 18,” the board administration said in the email.

The high schools in the district have been mask-optional before, but eventually went back to full-time. 

“The board’s action last night means that starting on Feb. 18, students, staff and visitors at all schools in the district would be mask optional,” the board said. “As long as the individual building absenteeism rate remains less than 7%.”

Many schools have had absences due to COVID-19, but there were also many absences due to the flu, and other illnesses. 

How they count the absences is important. If there are kids out for the flu, or other reasons, and they count it for the absence rate then they will be providing the board with rates that aren’t accurate on COVID-19 positive cases.  

“The board also updated the masking gating criteria to only include the 7% absentee rate as the measure, removing a previous factor of percent of building positive cases and quarantines,” the board said.

The only things in the district to not have a change made regarding masks are district transports, which will still require masks. However, parents later received an email saying the mandatory masks on public transportation for high school students a few weeks later.