Students at six Shawnee Mission elementary schools returned to school Monday with mask rules back in place, according to district officials.
Why now: The six schools all surpassed the district’s 5% threshold of overall student absence rates related to illness, Chief Communications Officer David Smith told the Post via email.
The schools impacted are all elementary schools, including:
- East Antioch,
- and Sunflower.
Smith said parent reports from the impacted schools show a gastrointestinal illness and influenza are circulating, prompting elevated rates of student absenteeism.
It remains unclear how many, if any, students at these schools may have been diagnosed with COVID-19, Smith said, so the move to masking is being done out of an “abundance of caution.”
Shawnee Mission’s online COVID-19 dashboard shows there are just 10 active reported exclusions for students districtwide as of April 4.
Background: The Shawnee Mission school board updated the district’s COVID-19 mitigation plan that included the new thresholds for when to bring masks back at individual schools at its Feb. 14 meeting.
The COVID-19 mitigation plan laid out not only the 5% threshold for absenteeism related to illness, but a 3% threshold for COVID-19 positivity rates.
These thresholds are building-specific, which is why these six schools are now returning to masks while other schools are not.
What happens next: Students at the six schools will remain in masks for at least 14 days, per the district’s COVID-19 mitigation plan.
That time period could be extended if, at the end of the 14 days, the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases is above 3% or the absenteeism rate related to illness remains above 5% in any one of the schools.
Key quote: “With the availability of home testing, schools may not always be notified of positive test results for COVID-19,” Smith told the Post via email. “When absenteeism rates exceed our pre-pandemic norms, out of an abundance of caution we follow the board approved mitigation plan with the goal of keeping schools open and maintaining healthy environments for learners.”