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SPS district leaders, board of education meeting on Jan. 28 to possibly approve temporary mask mandate

(KY3)
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 11:46 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield Public Schools district leaders and board of education officials are expected to meet next Friday to discuss a potential return to in-person learning and a temporary change to require masking among students.

Schools within the SPS district are preparing for virtual learning next week due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages. Both of those factors contributed to the district cancelling the last three days of in-person learning at schools. The district does not plan to return to in-person learning until Jan. 31 at earliest.

In a special meeting planned for Jan. 28, the board of education could approve a temporary “public health order” for the district that would require masking for all students and staff members from Jan. 31 to Feb. 18. A letter to parents says the board is considering the request.

The district released this following statement, in part, to KY3 on Friday:

“SPS administration has requested that the Board of Education hold a special meeting on Friday, January 28, to consider the implementation of a Public Health Order to require mask intervention for all staff and students from January 31 through February 18. The Board is currently considering this request.

We hope to be able to return to normal in-person instruction as soon as possible. In the meantime, please understand that these decisions are made following careful deliberation and consultation with numerous community partners and health agencies.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we respond to this rapidly evolving situation.”

Nearly one week ago, SPS announced that teachers and staff would be required to wear masks when, but not students, when in-person learning is held.

The district approved this policy after Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against SPS a few weeks ago over a masking mandate. A directive from Schmitt ordered schools to cease any quarantine or masking policies. The directives applies to students, but not necessarily to employees.

Schmitt filed similar lawsuits Friday against dozens of Missouri school districts over masking policies. Many of those school districts were based in the St. Louis or Kansas City areas, though the lawsuits also included one against the Waynesville School District in Pulaski County.

Schmitt contends, from a legal perspective, the Missouri General Assembly must give school districts the authority to require masking or quarantines for students. The General Assembly has not delegated this kind of authority to any school districts across Missouri.

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