Lawrence school district won’t require vaccinated students to wear a mask this coming school year

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

The Lawrence school district will begin allowing students vaccinated for COVID-19 to attend classes without wearing masks during the 2021-22 school year. However, those who are not vaccinated will be expected to wear masks when indoors or on school property.

The district on Wednesday announced the COVID-19 prevention measures it will use for the new school year, which begins in about a month. The district said the measures were meant to allow students to continue in-person learning this fall.

“Students benefit from in-person learning and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall of 2021 is a priority,” the district said in the announcement. “These mitigation strategies will assist in maintaining safe learning environments for all students and staff.”

The district said that it would also continue to work with health officials for guidance and that the mitigation strategies were subject to change. Echoing local health officials, the district said it “strongly” encouraged staff and students who are eligible to get vaccinated before the start of the school year. The announcement also comes while the U.S. is seeing a rise in cases caused by the delta variant of the virus.

Currently, people 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine.

Although the district will require unvaccinated students to wear masks, it said that it would not request proof of vaccination and that it requested “cooperation and support of all members of the school community in maintaining safe environments for all students and staff.” The district said it would also continue to provide masks and other personal protective equipment to students and staff.

While Douglas County let its mask mandate expire in May, the announced mitigation practices will be new for the school district. Previously the district told the Journal-World it kept its mask requirement for all students and visitors through its summer programming.

The district will continue to use its close-contact protocols, which require individuals to quarantine for 10 days after an exposure. However, fully vaccinated individuals will be exempt from those protocols unless they are symptomatic.

Additionally, individuals with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus will be required to isolate at home until tested and may be required to quarantine for 10 days, which follows guidelines from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. Students who are in quarantine will learn remotely through online video conference.

A full explanation of the measures is shown below or can be found on the district’s website, www.usd497.org/covid19.


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