Four of the five Olathe high schools have returned to requiring masks. That shift comes after each school individually exceeded the absenteeism threshold, a trigger point established by the Olathe Board of Education in November 2021 when the board initiated the optional masking rules for upper-grades.
Olathe North, Olathe Northwest and Olathe West had hit the absenteeism marker last week with absences surpassing 7% on the first and second days of the spring semester. This week, Olathe South joined them with an 8.7% rate of absenteeism on Monday. The figure rose on Tuesday to 10%.
Olathe East is now the only high school in the district that still has optional masking, reporting absenteeism rates below 4% this week.
When you see the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to skyrocket locally…
Beyond high school absenteeism data, which is updated daily, the Olathe school district has yet to publicly share any COVID-19 data for the spring semester. However, the most recent data, dating back to mid-December, showed the highest rates of quarantines and confirmed cases among students so far this school year.
After Thanksgiving Break, USD 233 dropped its mask requirement for high school buildings. However, mitigation becomes more strict on a building-by-building basis at the high school level as community spread begins to ramp up. If the number of isolations and quarantines surpass 4%, a building returns to universal masking until the rate falls below 4% for two weeks. That same protocol is activated if 7% of a building’s population is absent.