KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -- The Turner School District has voted to impose a mask mandate just six days into the school year.

The school year started last week with masks optional for students and teachers. But due to a surge in positive COVID cases in the district, masks will now be required indoors.

However, district spokeswoman Lauren Aiello says the main issue has been with having to quarantine the unvaccinated and unmasked students who were close contacts of the positive cases.

"So, while the positive cases certainly played a role in the decision, the larger issue we are dealing with is significant quarantines. We want students in school and quarantines keep that from happening," she said.

In an email sent to families Wednesday morning, the district says:

As we have previously stated, our priority for this school year is to keep our schools open and provide a safe, in-person learning environment for our students and staff. We are grateful to our many families who chose to send their students to school wearing a mask; however, being just six days into the school year, we are experiencing positive cases in our buildings, and as a result, there is already a significant amount of quarantines of unvaccinated, unmasked individuals. 

We believe that in-person learning in our schools is what is best for our students. The need to quarantine unvaccinated, unmasked individuals is not sustainable for our staff and is taking too many students out of our classrooms. Because of this, we will be requiring masks in indoor spaces starting this Thursday, August 19th. This change will significantly reduce the need to implement quarantines, which will result in fewer interruptions in academics, activities, athletics, and other services. Masks will continue to be required on school buses due to the federal order.

Regardless of individual views on masking, we believe our families want their children to be in school, and this change will better our ability to keep classrooms and schools open.

Thank you for your understanding.

The new rule takes effect Thursday.

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