Masking requirement returns next week for SPS staff and visitors, but not students

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:29 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 8:11 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield Public Schools, the largest school district in Missouri, will return to a masking requirement for staff and visitors next week, but not for students.

SPS spokesperson Stephen Hall confirmed the district’s changes in masking Friday, which will take effect when schools return on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The requirement will last until at least Feb. 4.

Staff members in the district received an email Friday on the change. The district sent a letter to parents later Friday regarding the change.

District leaders dropped a district-wide mask mandate in late-December after Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt issued a cease and desist letter over masking in the district. The directives apply to students, but not to employees.

At the end of the day Wednesday, SPS reported at least 530 cases from the first three days of this week. The new number of cases in SPS almost doubles its record case amount throughout the entire pandemic.

The district is strongly encouraging masking for students and has masks are available for anyone who would like to wear one. SPS recommends the following guidance on masking for students, but has not set forth a requirement.

In a letter sent to parents, the district says it will also expand testing locations and expects to provide an update on COVID-19 testing next week. Symptomatic students and staff may continue to receive free testing at a centralized location and appointments can be made through a school nurse.

The pandemic had also led to staffing shortages. The district says, if it is unable to provide appropriate staffing as the COVID-19 surge continues, the transition to virtual learning could happen for an individual classroom, grade level or school building.

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