Mask Mandate Dropped


Jackson Palmer and Vin Parazin

For the last couple of years, masks have made their way into everyday life of people around the world. In 2020, with COVID-19 cases increasing heavily, a mask mandate was enacted for highschool students and teachers in the Olathe School District, and remained in effect through November 19th.

However, the Olathe School District declared masks to be optional for students and teachers after Thanksgiving break.

Students have mixed opinions about the lifted mandate. Some, such as Junior Wyatt Schrader, believe that it could negatively impact the health of the Olathe North Community.

“The point of wearing a mask is to prevent the spread- vaccinated people can still hold it, so saying the vaccinated people should be the ones not wearing them is a [bad] point,” Schrader said.

Others, such as junior Kyle Barbee, believe that masks are no longer necessary for school, since they aren’t worn anywhere else.

“If we’re being honest, most people don’t wear masks except at school. I don’t wear one when shopping or at work,” Barbee said.

Olathe isn’t the only school district to drop the mandate after Thanksgiving break.The Blue Valley school district is also dropping their mask requirement. However, others, such as the Shawnee Mission School District, have voted to keep the mask mandate until January.

Though masks are optional for Olathe high-school students, the Olathe School enacted a measure that would make masks mandatory for all students if the absentee rate for students is above 7 percent on a certain day, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19.

A newly determined variant of COVID-19, known as Omicron, could impact that future absentee rate. The variant, which was first widely transmitted in South Africa, has spread to the United States, with at least two cases reported, one in California and one in Minnesota.

It is widely believed that the Omicron variant is far more contagious than any other variant of COVID-19, and professional health experts have encouraged people to wear masks to reduce the spread of the virus.

Students and teachers around North are curious to see whether or not the dropping of the mandate will cause cases to increase.

“I’m interested to see once people take their mask off the numbers will spike up or if it will be like it used to be,” teacher Jennifer Schleicher said.