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COVID concerns linger as USD 259 prepares for new school year, school board to decide mask mandate Aug. 9

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s back to school for new staff and teachers at USD 259 on Monday.

“We are optimistic this is going to be a good year for all of us,” said Brent Lewis, President of United Teachers of Wichita.

Some teachers going back this week said they have concerns about COVID and the Delta variant.

“Last year was rough at times,” said Charrica Osborne, a teacher at North High. “I’m honestly scared. I was in the hospital for ten days, ICU for five.”

Charrica survived COVID last year but lost several family members and friends.

“I know we are in the classroom, and that’s the best place for learning,” said Charrica. “I am fully vaccinated and am hoping others get it.”

Charrica says she is waiting to hear more from the school district on mask-wearing while inside schools.

Right now, USD 259 has masks as optional. School board President Stan Reeser told KSN they are still preparing plans that will be presented to the board on August 9th.

Teachers and staff experienced in the district come back Wednesday for teacher orientation.

Other teachers going into the new school year say they are vaccinated and hopeful for a good year.

“I like being in the classroom. I don’t have concerns,” said Hadley Middle School teacher Natasha Kauffman. “But I’m also a very healthy person.”

Natasha says if there is a mask mandate at any time, she will wear the mask and follow safety protocols.

“I prefer no mask but I’m vaccinated and I trust the vaccine,” said Natasha. “So I prefer no mask but if it comes down to it and they say a mask then, of course, I’m going to follow the mask mandate.”

Charrica says she hopes people are still considering the vaccine.

“In the classroom is the best,” said Charrica. “The more in the community that vaccinates the better chance we have of a smooth year.”

On Tuesday, USD 259 told KSN that the school district plans on sending the administrative recommendation for mask mandate to parents either on Wednesday or Thursday. The school board doesn’t meet to discuss it until Monday, Aug 9. 

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