SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield Public School’s Superintendent shared plans for masking after the holiday break during a school board meeting Tuesday night.

Superintendent Grenita Lathan said she anticipates lifting the district’s mask mandate by mid-January. She said she hopes students and teachers will have ample opportunities to get vaccinated before returning from winter break, which will allow the district to drop the policy.

Masking on school buses is a federal mandate, and will stay in place until the federal government announces a change.

At the beginning of the school year, SPS said officials would be constantly reviewing COVID-19 policies, and the ultimate goal was to keep kids in the classroom.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave final approval on Tuesday for kids ages 5-11 to get the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19. Hy-Vee and Walgreens are offering appointments for kids to get the vaccine. Superintendent Lathan said during Tuesday’s meeting the district and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department will announce plans for clinics to vaccinate newly eligible students next week.

Ten citizens spoke during the meeting. One of them was Kristy Fulnecky, who spoke against the district’s mask mandate, asking the district to drop masking guidelines immediately. Fulnecky has previously filed lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions. She claimed masking does not work, and pointed out case numbers are lower now in Greene County.

According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, 35 people are diagnosed with COVID-19 each day. The highest daily average in 2021 was 255 cases per day in January.

As of November 3, 2021, there are 48 people in Springfield hospitals with COVID-19. The highest number of hospitalizations in 2021 was 271 patients in July.

Just more than 52% of Greene County residents who are older than 12 are fully vaccinated, according to the Health Department’s Recovery Dashboard.