The Pottawatomie County Commission will meet Wednesday to discuss whether to opt out of Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order, known as Executive Order No. 20-59, requiring schools to implement face masks and other health measures.
Kelly originally stated that the order, which was announced in July, is not optional, but according to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, public-school districts have the authority to opt out of the order without consent from the county government. Therefore, the decision will mostly determine whether private schools are allowed to implement their own coronavirus-mitigation plans.
Matthew Childs, an official at St. Mary’s Academy, says public and private schools should be put on the same footing and that private schools should be able to decide for themselves how to handle their own health and safety efforts.
“What we would really appreciate is just the capacity to make our own decisions about how to have school,” Childs said. “From our perspective, effective education requires human interaction. And a mask, especially with a kindergartner, the first time he or she sees a teacher, that’s not the way we do it. I don’t think it’s reasonable.”
Flint Hills Christian School officials have also expressed that they would like the authority to implement their own health and safety plan.
The meeting will take place at the Wamego EMS Training Center at 2 p.m. and will be open to the public in-person and via zoom.
Liz Parthemer, health officer for Pottawatomie County, will be in attendance to give input during the discussion.
It is unclear at this time whether the meeting will open for public comment.

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