Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner-Edgerton School Board voted May 3 to allow students to not wear masks at recess and P.E. for the remainder of the school year.
The board voted students Pre-K through 6 grade can choose not to wear masks while maintaining three feet of social distance. Specifically: Allow the kids out of the mask as long as they can maintain that three-foot perimeter from one another, otherwise if they are playing on the playground equipment and cannot maintain that three-foot distance they should continue to wear a mask. PK-6th grade starting on May 10, 2021, during recess and outdoor activities.
Kristen Schultz and Robin Stout, members, dissented.
Tresa Boden, board member, said she wanted to have the open discussion because there were only 19 days of school left.
“It’d be nice to give these kids a little something a little break,” she said. “Being outside when it’s 80 degrees and you’re sweating and having a sweaty mask and going back inside—let’s just give them a reprieve.”
Lana Sutton, board member, said she agreed with Boden.
“It’s like a Petri dish,” she said. “Let them play and breathe fresh air.”
Brandon Parks, board member, said he wanted to know what the CDC or county had to say.
Pam Stranahan, superintendent, said other districts such as Olathe and Blue Valley allow masks to be taken off if children aren’t touching each other or in close proximity.
Boden said when she passed kids on playgrounds she saw kids not wearing masks correctly.
“I feel the last little bits should be left to the parents,” she said. “It’s each individual’s responsibility at this point and the parent’s prerogative.”
Sutton said a lot of the kids were already playing together and having sleepovers outside of school.
Boden said the kids were intermingling in sports with kids from other states.
“We need to give these kids a bit of a break,” she said.
Schultz said an entire preschool class had been quarantined recently and masks protect others not those wearing them.
“I know I’m the hardcore masker,” she said. “It’s not that I don’t want kids out there playing in the warmer weather, I’m just not sure you can actively trace, and I think there are 19 days left we should just handle it too.
Stout said being a smaller district worked to their advantage.
Schultz said she wanted to know what the kids wanted.
“Three feet apart with no equipment sounds like kids waving to each other from across the playground,” she said. “My kids would rather put on the mask and interact.”
Parks said he’d like to see the start pushed to Monday to allow parents to reach out to the teacher and give the teachers time.
Stranahan said she saw kids pulling down their masks to play activities and then pulling them back up to be allowed to play on the playground equipment.
Parks said they were going into the understanding it wasn’t going to be perfect.
Shippy said he didn’t think kids are thinking about it as hard as the adults.