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Columbia Public Schools, Jefferson City School District bring back temporary mask mandate

Columbia Public Schools and the Jefferson City School District are reinstating their mask mandate for students and staff, starting Tuesday.

Both mandates were announced on Jan. 13, following a spike in omicron cases at schools.

According to CPS, masks must be worn inside all school and district buildings, as well as school buses, regardless of vaccination status. JCSD said a mask must be worn in any instance when social distancing of at least 3 feet cannot be maintained.

The CPS mandate is set to end on Friday, February 4. JCSD has not announced an end date, saying on its website that the mandate will remain in effect until further notice.

CPS Superintendent Brian Yearwood is also asking parents to help reduce the amount of contract tracing required due to exposure by completing morning self-checks and reviewing their child's symptoms daily.

According to CPS' COVID-19 dashboard, there are 140 active student cases and 51 students are in quarantine. There are also 48 active staff cases. In the JCSD, there are 67 active student cases and 32 active staff cases. There are 169 students and 24 staff members listed as close contacts.

Mandi Hamlin is the admin of the Facebook group "Parents Against CPS Mandates." She thinks that the timing behind the mandate is "suspicious."

"If it was so important to implement, then why wasn't it done right away?" Hamlin states. "It makes zero sense."

KOMU 8 News reached out to Attorney General Eric Schmitt about whether or not he will bring back his lawsuit against CPS. His office has not responded.

Both districts will have masks available to students who need them.

KOMU 8 is a full-powered NBC affiliate operating as an independent commercial property. As such, KOMU 8 is the only major network affiliate in the United States that acts as a university-owned commercial television station utilizing its newsroom as a working lab for students.