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KPS Board votes to make masks optional during meeting

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 10:50 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 2:23 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - The Kearney Public School Board meeting lasted several hours but ultimately ended in making masks optional unless under close contact.

The meeting started around 5:30 p.m. on Monday and addressed other parts of the agenda before discussing what the majority of the audience came for, and that was the mask mandate.

There were a total of 44 speakers and each had about two minutes to speak. First up were several doctors either advocating or fighting against wearing masks.

“Masking has the potential to lessen the burden on the local hospitals. It has the potential to save lives,” said Kearney Dr. David Cantral.

Once doctors spoke their peace, it was time for people in the audience to give their opinions. Just like the doctors, there were people who were either for or against but whatever side they were on, they spoke with conviction.

“I’m not anti-mask. I’m anti-taking away parents choices and the medical consequences that nobody is going to be held liable for,” said Kearney Resident Jacob Reiter.

The meeting lasted until about 11 p.m. with the board voting unanimously on this decision.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Kent Edwards released this letter which was sent to KPS parents after Monday night’s school board meeting:

Parents and Guardians

Important decisions were made at the Kearney Public Schools Board of Education meeting held last night, and I want you to hear the information directly from me.

The Board listened to public comments about mask mandates for over two hours. There were approximately ten medical professionals who spoke and approximately 34 additional speakers.  After listening intently and deliberating the pros and cons, the Board decided that masks at Kearney Public Schools will be ‘highly recommended’ but optional for both students and staff.  Kearney Public Schools will remain in the Green Operational Zone, and the district’s Infection Control Plan will be utilized to inform future decisions on mitigation protocols.

So, beginning today, parents can choose to have their children wear a mask or not.   I have been in many classrooms this fall, and there are children in every room choosing to wear a mask.  I recognize this decision will not appease all parents. We will not all agree, but we must move forward and get to the business of learning.

We believe that children receive their best education in the classroom; however, KPS will be offering remote learning.  More details on remote learning will be forthcoming.  We will continue our procedures to mitigate COVID and encourage families to mask their children.

If a person has a confirmed case of COVID, they cannot return to school until symptom-free, without medication for 24 hours. These students will either isolate or mask for ten calendar days from the onset of symptoms.

We thank you for your understanding and support,

Sincerely,

Kent Edwards, Superintendent

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