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Masks and face coverings will be optional in OPS buildings beginning next month

Masks and face coverings will be optional in OPS buildings beginning next month

Beginning next month, masks and face coverings will be optional in Omaha Public Schools buildings.

Monday night, the OPS school board approved a resolution stating that beginning July 1, masks will not be required in district buildings. The resolution was on the board’s consent agenda and was passed without discussion.

The district said in a letter to families that face coverings are recommended for people who have not been vaccinated.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is optional but we strongly, we strongly, we strongly encourage staff and families to carefully consider the opportunity,” Superintendent Cheryl Logan said during the school board meeting.

OPS gave every staff member access to a vaccine and allowed the Douglas County Health Department to hold vaccine clinics at some of the district’s high schools for students and families.

The decision from OPS comes after the City of Omaha’s mask mandate was allowed to expire last month. People in the city no longer must wear masks in most grocery stores, businesses, churches, schools, gyms, restaurants and bars, though establishments still can make individual policies on masking.

Although the school year is over, classes continue for many students in the metro area. OPS, for example, is offering summer school to thousands of students this month and next.

Other school districts such as Bellevue and Elkhorn have said masks are optional starting this month for students participating in summer school and activities. Some, including Westside, are joining OPS in requiring masks through the end of June.

A note to Westside parents said the district would announce later this month its decision about COVID protocols for July activities.

Bridget Blevins, an OPS spokeswoman, said OPS will provide more information about what may or may not be required for next school year “closer to August.”

The Millard school district, the second-largest in the metro area, already has announced it plans a “full reopening,” with masks optional, based on the current trajectory of the virus, according to Superintendent Jim Sutfin.

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Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

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