Keeping schools open and safe will continue to be a top priority in the Shawnee Mission School District for the 2021-2022 school year.
At the regular meeting of the Shawnee Mission Board of Education on July, 26, 2021, Board members adopted a mitigation plan for the 2021-22 school year. This plan requires masking for all children at the elementary level. At the secondary level, mask wearing will be strongly recommended for unvaccinated individuals, until they are fully vaccinated.
Prior to adoption, the Board of Education heard a presentation from members of the district leadership team about mitigation measures. They also heard from Elizabeth Holzschuh, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment epidemiologist, who outlined details about rising cases of COVID-19 in Johnson County and the concerns of the Delta variant.
She highlighted a local current event to illustrate the risk of unmasked students spreading COVID-19 in a classroom. Johnson County recently shut down a summer camp due to 8 elementary-aged students testing positive for COVID-19. Within a week, 42 percent of the students who were unmasked in the classroom had contracted COVID-19.
Holzschuh compared that instance of transmission to the low transmission seen in Johnson County schools during the 2020-2021 school year and attributed it to masking.
“What we know is that masks are incredibly effective at preventing COVID,” Holszhuch shared. “If you take masks away at the schools, we will see widespread transmission. I am confident of that. We have evidence just this week that is what will happen.”
Shawnee Mission understands that the goal of keeping schools open and safe requires the collective effort of our educators, families, public health and county officials, as well as support from the medical community. The strongest mitigating measures may be found in the immunity gained from vaccines. An opportunity to receive a free vaccine will be available at the district’s upcoming job fair.
The Shawnee Mission School district will continue to monitor Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and will remain in regular communication with the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. As a result, safety mitigation protocols may change by action of the superintendent or Board, in response to community transmission data and/or additional guidance offered from public health officials, with relatively short notice.
We look forward to welcoming all of our students in the coming days to a new school year, and we thank all who are making a collective effort to keep students safely in the classroom this school year.