Private schools serving Johnson County differ on approaches to masking, COVID-19 protocols ahead of new year

Bishop Miege High School

Many local private schools like Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park are not requiring students to wear masks for the upcoming school year. Others, like The Barstow School on State Line in Kansas City, Mo., across from Leawood, will be requiring masks. File photo.

Students enrolled in private schools serving northeast Johnson County face a mixed bag of mask and COVID-19 policies heading into a new school year.

The Barstow School in Kansas City, Mo., Maranatha Christian Academy in Lenexa, Pembroke Hill Academy just across State Line in Kansas City and schools operated by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, including Bishop Miege in Roeland Park, are all handling the upcoming year differently when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation practices. .

At the same time, local public schools are also crafting their COVID-19 plans. Most public school students in northern Johnson County will not be required to wear masks when they return to in-person learning next month. The only exception are elementary students in the Shawnee Mission School District.

Below is a look at COVID-19 and mask policies for some major private schools serving families in Johnson County:

The Barstow School

Students, faculty and staff at The Barstow School in Kansas City, Mo., will be required to wear masks indoors.

Lisa Tulp, director of communications and marketing, said the school’s medical advisory committee came to this decision due to the rising COVID-19 infection rates and new health expert guidance.

Masks will not be mandated outdoors on campus.

While learning will be in-person, if attendance puts a student or a student’s “family members at unreasonable risk of significant illness,” there is an online learning option, Tulp said.

“As we have said from the beginning of this pandemic, we will do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Tulp said. “Our goal remains to keep Barstow open to in-person learning. We hope that everyone in our school community will work together to protect each other and prevent transmission.”

The first day of school for students is set for Thursday, Aug. 19.

Maranatha Christian Academy

Maranatha Christian Academy in Lenexa is planning on in-person learning for the upcoming school year, which begins on Aug. 10 for junior high students and Aug. 11 for all others.

The school will not require masks, but if a new statewide mandate or emergency order is passed, Head of School Janet Fogh said the school will comply.

Maranatha will continue its sanitizing efforts, and will practice quarantine and isolation protocols for affected individuals, Fogh said — just like the school did last year, when it was able to stay in-person the entire year.

“We did have those who needed to quarantine for a period, but we were thrilled to continue our academic, athletic, social and spiritual education throughout the year with great success,” Fogh said. “This year, we plan to do the same.”

Pembroke Hill

The Pembroke Hill School, located in Kansas City, Mo., just across State Line from Mission Hills has yet to make final decisions on COVID-19 protocols and policies, school officials say.

Administration is working with health teams to finalize its protocols and policies, which will be communicated once they are determined, officials said.

“The safety of our students, faculty and staff remains our top priority,” school officials said in an email to the Shawnee Mission Post. “We are carefully monitoring the prevalence of the new COVID variants in the Kansas City community, along with data regarding infection rates among fully-vaccinated individuals.”

While nothing is set in stone yet, the goal is to keep learning in-person for the 2021-2022 school year — just like the previous academic year.

Short-term virtual options will be made available for students who must quarantine or miss in-person learning related to COVID-19.

The school year begins on Thursday, Aug. 19.

Bishop Miege

The Catholic high school in Roeland Park is aiming to have “as normal of a school experience as possible” for the 2021-2022 year, according to the most recent mitigation report on the school’s website.

“Now that all vulnerable populations and all members of our school community have had ample access to be vaccinated if they so desire, we do not believe it prudent for us to require mitigation strategies that have proven challenging to the full education and formation of our students,” the report published this month reads.

Bishop Miege will not require masks for any students, faculty or staff, though masks will be recommended for those who are not fully vaccinated.

No student, faculty or staff member is required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but asks that “parents prayerfully and carefully discern the benefits of vaccination for their teen.”

Bishop Miege will only offer in-person learning this school year, with no plans to offer “Zoom options for students, even those who may be required to isolate or quarantine,” according to the report.

The report offers no clear guidance on how quarantining will be handled this year should there be a COVID-19 positive case identified at Bishop Miege.

The high school did consult with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas — which did not immediately respond to the Post’s requests for comment for this story — when crafting its mitigation plan, school officials say.

The first full day of school for all grades is Thursday, Aug. 19.