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Andover parent explains frustration, week into mask mandate for elementary students

Sept. 13, 2021 school board meeting in Andover, Kansas
Sept. 13, 2021 school board meeting in Andover, Kansas(KWCH)
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:43 PM CDT
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ANDOVER, Kan. (KWCH) - Ten days following the start of a temporary mask mandate for students in its elementary schools, the Andover school board held a meeting Monday night, Sept. 13, at which it didn’t take further action regarding masks and COVID-19-related protocols. The meeting was more quiet than it was on Aug. 31 when the board took action at a special meeting to approve the mask mandate, in effect until Oct. 12. For now, based on case and quarantine numbers, middle schools and high schools are excluded.

Ahead of the Aug. 31 meeting, Andover Public Schools Superintendent Brett White said the mask mandate is necessary as the district reported rising positive cases and quarantines. He said requiring masks is an easier adjustment than trying to adjust to potential temporary school closures.

For the week that ended Aug. 27, the district had 38 positive student cases, up from 19 the previous week. Of the 38 cases, 24 were elementary students. On Aug. 31, the board unanimously approved the temporary mask mandate for students in kindergarten through fifth grades, but not without vocal opposition from several parents, a few of which were escorted out of the meeting my police.

At the Sept. 13 Andover school board meeting, concerns about the mask mandate did come up during the time allocated for public comment. One parent who spoke with Eyewitness News said the past week for her and her family was difficult with children having to readjust to having masks on in the classroom. She said this has brought on unwanted stress.

During her comment to the board, Wendy Letter spoke about masks specifically not being the issue, but referring to them as a symptom. She said the reason she and other parents are upset is because the mandate has taken away their ability to choose what is best for their children.

“One of (the school board members) at an earlier meeting had expressed frustration with having to make this decision,” she said. “I would say, ‘I would happily absolve you of the choice.’ Let the parents choose. We will always choose what’s best for our kids. We love them, we brought them into this world. The school board doesn’t know how the masks affect each individual student.”

Beyond the public comment Monday night, there was not further discussion on the issue.

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