COVID outbreak forces Kansas City elementary school to go online through end of month

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A Kansas City elementary school has moved to online-only classes through the end of the month due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the district confirmed Tuesday.

Trailwoods Elementary School moved to virtual learning on Tuesday and will not return to in-person classes until June 1, said Kelly Wachel, spokeswoman for Kansas City Public Schools. In addition, she said two classrooms at John T. Hartman Elementary, and one classroom at Phillis Wheatley Elementary, will also quarantine for the next two weeks due to COVID-19.

Wachel would not specify how many students or employees at each school have tested positive for the coronavirus. But she said the district follows guidance from the health department, which recommends quarantining when more than 5% of students and/or staff have tested positive in a particular school or classroom.

“The quarantines in three of our elementary schools reflect current community spread,” Wachel said. “As we’re following health department guidance for quarantines and continuing to practice our health and safety protocols, we continue to ask for community support in helping prevent spread.”

She encouraged residents to get vaccinated and wear masks to “help stop the spread in our community and subsequently in our schools as well.”

The district was among the last in the metro to allow students back into classrooms. The school year is scheduled to end June 11.

The school outbreaks come as Kansas City and most area municipalities have relaxed COVID-19 protocols and dropped mask mandates.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer have to wear masks or socially distance outdoors or in most indoor settings. And recently, Kansas City, as well as Johnson, Jackson, Clay and Platte counties, eased their mask orders.

But most school districts, including Kansas City Public Schools, will continue to require masks through the end of the school year.

“We have four weeks left and we are certainly keeping our mask mandate,” Wachel said.

Only last week were adolescents ages 12 to 15 allowed to start getting the COVID-19 vaccine; younger children still are not eligible.

Some districts, like Shawnee Mission in Johnson County, have seen protests this week as parents argue for the end of mask mandates. Several have faced lawsuits by parents who say their children have been aggrieved by the mandates.

The Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs and Fort Osage districts, though, have decided to stop requiring masks in schools.

Public health officials continue to urge more residents to get vaccinated. Johnson County leads in the metro area with nearly 45% of its residents fully vaccinated. It’s followed by Platte County at 33.1%, Jackson County at 32%, Clay County at 30.9% and Wyandotte County at 28.2%, according to data from the CDC.

The Kansas City metro area reported a rise in the rolling average of new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The metro gained 187 new cases for a total of 147,723 cases to date.

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