Columbia's Smithton Middle School (2021 photo courtesy of CPS' Michelle Baumstark)

UPDATE: CPS to reinstate mask requirement, effective Tuesday

CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood (photo courtesy of CPS website)

The Columbia Public Schools (CPS) superintendent says increases in COVID cases related to the Omicron variant have caused CPS to reinstate a temporary mask requirement starting on Tuesday.

The mask mandate will go for 14 school days, until Friday February 4. CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood says there are currently 57 staff members and 325 students with COVID, adding that the district is facing staffing challenges as employees are impacted by the virus.

The district has masks available for those who need them.

Dr. Yearwood sent a message to CPS families late Thursday afternoon. His message says says current projections indicate they have two to three weeks to mitigate the Omicron variant before the virus peaks.

Columbia’s school board voted 4-3 in December to end the indoor mask requirement. At the time, Superintendent Yearwood recommended the change, due to federal approval of a COVID vaccine for ages five and up.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has said that mask requirements are null and void, under a November decision from Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green.

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