Mulvane BOE masks

Jay Ensley, superintendent of Mulvane Public Schools, stands before the Mulvane Board of Education at a special meeting on Aug. 30. Ensley asked board members to approve a temporary mask mandate, which passed 6-1. 

Masks will be required at Mulvane Public Schools from Sept. 1 to 27 under a new mandate.

The universal mandate was approved by the Mulvane Board of Education at a special meeting on Aug. 30 after Superintendent Jay Ensley recommended the measure to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Mulvane schools and the larger community. 

“We did try to have a less restrictive start for the year. It was very nice to have that, but we did promise that we would continue to analyze, look at where we are, and reevaluate,” Ensley said before a crowded board room. 

As of Aug. 30, the district had recorded 41 student cases and 13 staff cases, with 193 students in quarantine and five staff in quarantine. 

Ensley said the mandate would closely resemble that which was in place last school year. He said he consulted with local physicians and school nurses, and they were in agreement on the mandate. 

“I know it’s an inconvenience. I don’t like masks,” he said. “But I do think if this is going to be a measure we take that will help prevent quarantining students from classrooms, I think we have to look at that.”

Ensley said 5o to 75% of students who had to quarantine this year wouldn’t have been quarantined if the district was operating under a mask mandate, due to the county’s distinction between low-risk and high-risk close contacts.

Under the order, masks are not required outdoors. Visitors will be limited, but parents will still be able to conduct business in a school office while masked. 

Patrons can also be exempt from the mask requirement with a doctor’s note. 

Mulvane schools were already requiring masks on all district transportation, as required by a federal mandate. 

Dr. Brian Comer, a doctor at Mulvane Family MedCenter, spoke in favor of the move, saying virtually no one he has talked to in the medical community would say that masks are a bad idea. 

“Let’s just dispense with any misinformation. There’s medical analysis out there that shows that when a mask is worn properly, it decreases that amount of aerosolization to that person that’s close to you, and it is an effective way to reduce the incidence of spread,” he said. 

Board member Steve Fry asked if the district could allow teachers to remove their masks when standing at the front of the classroom and properly distanced.  

“I talked it over with the nursing team, a couple of principals, and it was preferred that we just start with a black-and-white [policy], while inside at all times,” Ensley said. “That could be re-evaluated at the [Sept.] 27th meeting.”

The board ultimately approved the recommended mask mandate 6-1, with Fred Heersche opposed. 

Daniel Caudill is a reporter and the digital content manager for the Derby Informer. Contact him at daniel@derbyinformer.com for questions and news tips. 

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Reporter and Digital Content Manager

Daniel Caudill is a reporter and the digital content manager for the Derby Informer. He primarily covers education and features. Contact him at daniel@derbyinformer.com for questions and news tips.