COVID guidelines change


Olathe Board voted in the November meeting to drop mask requirements at high schools and alter COVID mitigation across the district. Photo Courtesy of USD 233

Madeline King, Staff Writer

The Olathe School Board voted to implement new masking guidelines and Covid-19 precautions on November 4. These changes, including the Test to Stay Program that began on November 8 and the mask optional policy for high schools that will begin on November 29, will impact both students and staff members.

Unvaccinated students and staff members may not be required to quarantine after an exposure to Covid-19. This is part of the district’s new Test to Stay plan. With this plan, unvaccinated students and staff at all elementary, middle, and high schools can remain in the building after an exposure, as long as they are not showing symptoms of the virus. However, they must remain masked while in the building and receive a daily Covid-19 test from a district testing site during their time in the Test to Stay program. They will be permitted to attend school as normal as long as they continue to test negative.

Fully vaccinated students and staff members do not need to participate in the Test to Stay program, as long as they are not showing symptoms.

Beginning on November 29, high school students and staff members will no longer be required to mask while in the school building. The mask optional policy is truly optional for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. This plan will remain in effect unless a high school’s percentage of quarantines reaches or exceeds 4% or the building’s absenteeism reaches or exceeds 7%.

Some students are worried by the new mask optional policy.

“I feel that the mask mandate being lifted will negatively affect our school,” sophomore Audrey Bryant said. “I am worried that the option will make unvaccinated individuals believe that it is okay to endanger others. Our school is crowded and unsafe as it is, and lifting the mandate will make it worse in my opinion.”

Others are neutral on the subject of the mask optional policy.

“I don’t think we are necessarily ready for it with the amount of people we have vaccinated, but I’m not upset with the move to lift the mandate,” junior Ben Lodge said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if our rates spiked like what happened in Spring Hill, but at this point, if people still aren’t getting vaccinated, there isn’t much more that can be done.”

Covid-19 vaccinations are now approved for ages 5 and up. They can be received at local drug stores and doctor’s offices.