Mask or No Mask?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released its guidance for the 2021-22 school year

Veronica Meiss (she/her), Online Editor In Chief

Masks, vaccinations and social distancing. 

That is what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has in mind for the 2021-22 school year.  These guidelines  will, however, vary slightly from last year’s restrictions.



     Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals of more than two years of age. Masks should also be worn while inside, full-time, by those not fully vaccinated. In general, wearing masks while outdoors should not be required. If students are doing physical activities in gym class, masks should not be required either. Masks should be CDC-approved and fully cover the nose and mouth.

     If a school or district has high transmission rates, everyone should wear masks, especially if social distancing is not possible. Students who are fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors and when social distancing is not possible. 

     If a person who is disabled cannot wear a mask, the school will decide the masking requirement. 

     Schools should also provide masks to students who have forgotten to bring them or whose families cannot afford them, rather than taking disciplinary action. 



     Vaccines should not be required but encouraged.

     Schools with a small percentage of vaccinated individuals can encourage students and teachers to get the vaccination by providing information about it. 

     Offering vaccinations on-site before, during and after the school day is also recommended. 


Social Distancing

     While the CDC still recommends six feet of physical distance, several studies found COVID-19 transmissions did not rise when students wore masks and were placed closer. 

     Because of those studies, at least three feet of distance in a classroom is now recommended. If three feet is not possible, schools should ensure that students wear masks, wash hands frequently, cover their coughs and sneezes and stay home when they feel sick. 


What SMSD Is Doing

     The JCDHE is planning on following the CDC’s guidance regarding keeping COVID-19 contained.

     “Although transmission of the virus has decreased substantially compared to this time last year, we must remain vigilant,” said JCDHE Director Dr. Sanmi Areola. “We are starting to see concerning increases in cases. We want a return to normalcy, but we need to be cautious and get vaccinated if eligible.”

     With the new Delta variant of COVID-19 infecting Kansas at a rapid pace, the JCDHE strongly recommends all individuals be vaccinated. Currently, less than 40% of individuals ages 12-17 are fully vaccinated. The JCDHE strongly recommends schools require masks for individuals who are not fully vaccinated. 

     The Shawnee Mission School District plans to follow the CDC and JCDHE’s recommendations. Masks will be required for students and staff, vaccines will be recommended and social distancing will be enforced.