BOE approves mask-recommended policy for second semester


Nicholas Whittington

KSD will be mask-recommended, not mask-required, beginning second semester.

At the BOE meeting on Monday Dec. 13, Superintendent David Ulrich presented his Safe Return to School Plan for board members to discuss and vote on. This plan outlined a mask-recommended policy for KSD to implement after winter break. The BOE approved the mask-recommended plan with a vote of five to two. The plan will take effect after winter break at KHS, NKMS and Nipher Middle School, then continue to KSD elementary schools later in January.

Ulrich acknowledges that Kirkwood is still in a pandemic, and if there is a need to return to requiring masks, then KSD will. Ulrich stated Missouri legislature grants him the ability to re-enforce the mask mandate if he feels it is necessary. If COVID-19 positive cases exceed 1.5% of the total population in a KSD building, that building will immediately require masks for a minimum of two weeks.

Ulrich said the decision to adopt a mask-recommended policy was made considering many Missouri school districts do not currently have a mask mandate and have been successful. A Social Emotional team has been reviewing strategies to address student anxiety over not wearing masks in the classroom, as well as a dashboard with updates on KSD’s website located here.

Students and staff will have the choice to wear a mask starting second semester. (Elena Sherwood)

The BOE also received an update from Dr. Shonda Ambers-Phillips, executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion for KSD, on the 11th principle of the Kirkwood School District Task Force to Eliminate the Achievement Gap. The 11th principle’s goal is to “Expand existing efforts to retain, attract and hire diverse staff with an intentional focus on building/positions that are currently less diverse.” This update focused on racial diversity in staff among buildings, positions and the changes in the amount of diverse staff from December 2020 vs December 2021. The complete update can be found here

Per board policy, the BOE took public comments for 30 minutes at the beginning of their meeting. Community members spoke on a variety of topics including mask mandates, racial issues and concern over the appropriateness of KSD’s library book content. There was also an inquiry over how the district would respond to the recent order from the Missouri Attorney General, Eric Schmitt, concerning mask mandates. This was discussed before the approval of the Safe Return to School Plan. 

TKC will update on KSDs Safe Return to School Plan as more information becomes available.