Will Omaha-metro schools re-evaluate mask plans after CDC recommendations change?

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Several school districts around the Omaha metro had already announced plans to make masks optional including Omaha, Millard, and Elkhorn. The question now is whether Tuesday’s announcement from the CDC will change that.

OPS said they will update staff and families with the latest safety protocols this week.

Officials with Bellevue just finalized plans Monday. Face masks will be optional and there are no plans to change that as of now.

Bennington says they are working closely with local health officials as they reevaluate their plans.

Westside said Monday that it would have finalized plans before next Tuesday. Seventh-grader Nina Saxon says she is fully vaccinated and will be wearing a mask when school starts in just a few short weeks, no matter what her district decides to do.

“Honestly, I’d rather wear a mask than not. Not everybody is fully vaccinated, and not everyone can get vaccinated; so, it’s probably just safer,” Saxon said.

Douglas County reported 112 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Experts say the case count is higher than it was this time last year.

“It’s definitely a rate that made all of our hearts skip a beat,” said Dr. Lindsay Huse, Douglas County Health Director.

Dr. Huse said she has been in contact with all the county’s superintendents, and she is supporting the latest CDC recommendations.

“We have been recommending that school-aged children mask. Each district is responsible for their own policies around masking. We are going to continue to strongly recommend that our kids are in masks now regardless of vaccination status.”

Students said the news that cases are on the rise is not what they wanted to hear as they prepare to enter a new school year.

But sixth-grader Caroline Blumenthal wants the masks to stay optional at her school. She said it’s difficult to stay in a mask all day.

“Probably a little disappointed because I think that life going back to normal would be really great, and I can’t get vaccinated yet so that’s disappointing, too. But I would carry a mask, and if I felt uncomfortable around somebody, I would put it on,” Blumenthal said.

At the end of the day, all the students we spoke with want their classmates to stay healthy all year. Dr. Huse is strongly encouraging every single person who walks into a school that can be vaccinated to do so.

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