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Omaha councilwoman suggests phasing out mask mandate for children

Posted at 10:08 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 00:43:58-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha’s mask mandate has been extended several times over the past year, and many are wondering when the mandate will end. One city council member has proposed a system to phase out the mandate over the next few months.

Omaha will have a mask mandate in place until May 25, when the city council is scheduled to once again consider whether or not a mandate is still necessary.

“Are we going to extend it, are we going to completely get rid of it?" said councilwoman Colleen Brennan, who represents District 5. "Or maybe there might be a better way to look at this and that we need to transition out of it.”

Brennan is one of many on the city council that feels the time has come to discuss when and how the mandate should be retired.

She has proposed a plan that would eliminate mask requirements in four phases based on grade levels rather than age.

Phase One: From February 23 - March 9 - Mask mandates would be eliminated for children, kindergarten and younger.

Phase Two: From March 9 - March 23 - Mask mandates would be eliminated for children, 5th grade and younger.

Phase Three: From March 23 - April 6 - Mask mandates would be eliminated for children, 8th grade and younger.

Phase Four: From April 6 on - Mask mandates would be eliminated for children, 12th grade and younger.

Brennan says starting with children, who have been shown to be less likely to catch and spread the virus, could help the council make an informed decision in May.

Just a few weeks ago, Brennan voted against an amendment to the mandate that would have raised the age requirement from 5 to 12. She says she wanted to get more information before approving that change.

“Frankly it was, I just didn’t have time to do enough research," Brennan said. "It was given to me. It was too soon. Too quick."

She says this plan is still in the beginning stages and she wants to talk more with her fellow council members, the mayor and her constituents before deciding to whether or not to propose a resolution to the city council.

“I think we’re all burned out. We’re exhausted," Brennan said. "We’ve got to find a way to get back to normal and have some balance in our lives again.”

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