Kansas Governor Requires Students to Wear Masks When Schools Reopen

July 21, 2020 Updated: July 21, 2020

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed an executive order on July 20 ordering students to wear masks in schools when they reopen.

The order mandates students, faculty, staff, vendors, and visitors to wear masks in school buildings and facilities. 

The order includes a number of exceptions, including for eating and activities that can’t be conducted safely with a mask on. Children under 5 and those with disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask are exempt from the order.

The order also mandates six feet of social distancing, except in classrooms when masks are worn. Students who return to schools must have their temperature checked upon arrival and sanitize their hands at least once every hour, the order mandates. 

“I will continue to use every resource and tool available to this administration to protect Kansans and keep our economy open for business, regardless of the political pushback,” Kelly said in a statement.

“Putting nearly half a million kids and faculty in daily, large gatherings is the exact opposite of what health experts have urged us to do.”

Kelly also issued, but has not yet signed, an order delaying the opening of schools until Sept. 8. The governor’s office said Kelly will sign the order once the Board of Education votes to approve it. 

“The additional three weeks will provide schools time to work with their counties to get the necessary mitigation supplies like masks, thermometers, and hand sanitizer, while providing local districts time to thoroughly review the curriculum options from the State Board of Education to figure out what strategy is best for their district,” Kelly said.

Kansas has reported 307 deaths statewide from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, also known as the coronavirus. The youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Kansas was 29 years old, according to the state’s website.

Kelly issued a statewide mask-wearing mandate earlier this month.

During the early stages of the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization advised against masks. Since then, both organizations have changed course and now recommend masks.

A review of scientific studies (pdf) released in April found the while there were no randomized control trials showing direct evidence that masks can help stop the spread of the CCP virus, a growing number of studies and case reports showed indirect evidence that masks can help.

A similar review published in The Lancet in June likewise found no randomized control trials on the effectiveness of masks, but concluded, based on 44 comparative observational studies, that “face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection.”

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