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Parents ask OPS to require masks as students return to school amidst rise in delta variant cases

Posted at 10:07 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 00:46:27-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Public School students will be heading back to the classroom in just a few weeks. As cases of the delta variant are climbing, the district is implementing some safety precautions, but some parents say it’s not enough.

Superintendent Cheryl Logan told the Board of Education on Monday the district was excited for the first day of school and bringing students back into the buildings.

“There are many factors that determine a young person's health and well-being," Logan said. "Some of the most important factors include their connectedness to classmates, teachers/staff and the familiarity of a daily routine.”

ALSO SEE: Westside schools to require masks for younger students, optional for those eligible for the vaccine

The district is continuing its disinfection protocols that were put in place last year in the hopes of keeping some germs at bay.

They’re also working with the local health department to host vaccine clinics and are encouraging those 12 and older to get the vaccine, scheduling 33 clinics up to the first day of school.

But some parents feel more needs to be done, specifically masks being required.

Erik Peterson, whose child will be entering the district this year, told the board of education and Logan that he was disappointed in the district's decision not to require masks.

“The delta variant is absolutely airborne," Peterson said. "Sanitizing surfaces, putting kids six feet apart - these are not effective measures. These do not prevent the spread of the virus. The only thing that prevents an airborne virus is stopping it from being airborne.”

At this time, the district recommends those who are unvaccinated wear a mask.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Douglas County Health Director have said that masks should be brought back as we tackle the delta variant, especially in school settings where many children are not eligible for the vaccine.

Rachel Kolb, a parent to three OPS students, asked the board to listen to the local and national health experts.

“When half of the students that attend OPS schools are ineligible to receive the vaccine, and a small percentage of those who are eligible have gotten it, I don’t believe it's in their best interest to have it as their decision as to whether or not to wear a mask," Kolb said.

The district says they will be working with the health department for any future decisions.

If the district wishes to require masks once again, that decision will have to go through the Board of Education.

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