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St. Louis County school districts change mask policies after winter break

The districts decided back in December to make masks optional. But with COVID cases on the rise, school officials have reversed those decisions.
Credit: JackF - stock.adobe.com

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Students showing up to school in the Lindbergh School District on Wednesday will need to be wearing a mask. Lindbergh schools announced the decision on Monday.

The Kirkwood School District also announced a similar policy starting Wednesday.

These districts decided back in mid-December to make masks optional. But with COVID cases on the rise in St. Louis County, school officials have reversed those decisions.

Those decisions to move to a mask-optional policy in December came after Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt ordered schools to drop their mask mandates due to a Cole County judge's ruling that health orders made by unelected officials were illegal.

Wednesday morning, masks will need to be back on for the first day of school after the winter break.

The Lindbergh school district said they’re requiring masks for all students and staff for two weeks. School officials will go over the area COVID numbers on Jan. 19 and decide whether students can go to a mask optional plan as soon as the next day.

COVID data collected by school nurses from each school will be also be reviewed.

RELATED: List: St. Louis area schools changing policies due to COVID surge

In the Kirkwood School District, officials decided to mandate masks last week, citing a rising number of cases and more kids in hospitals with COVID. Limited availability of testing was also a factor in choosing to require masks. Kirkwood's superintendent also said more students would likely have to quarantine without a mask mandate. Kirkwood hasn't said when it'll review this policy.

Masks will continue to be required for all students, staff and visitors in the Parkway School District until Jan. 17. At its Jan. 13 meeting, the school board will vote to decide if Parkway will move to a mask recommended environment

5 On Your Side spoke with Paul Ziegler, the CEO of EducationPlus. The organization works with 60 school districts in the St. Louis area on how to mitigate COVID. Ziegler said we could see decisions like these happening more often to keep kids in the classroom.

 “I think we've all come to the conclusion that we really want kids in an in-person environment. We think learning is better there for the majority of our students,” he said.

In a letter to parents, the Lindbergh district said school buildings’ percentage of individuals who test positive or are presumed positive for COVID has to be less than 1.5% of a school’s total population and COVID numbers in the community need to go down for the board to consider transitioning to a mask optional policy when the policy is reviewed Jan.19.

The latest school data from St. Louis county was released on Dec. 14, 2021.

It says at the start of December, staff cases were at their highest and student cases were at the second-highest we've seen all school year.

Over the past week in St. Louis County, there have been a record high number of cases and people in the hospital who have tested positive for COVID.

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