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KPS keeps masks for now, and agrees to a wage study

The trustees, in masks, sit at a wooden dais.
John McNeill
/
WMUK
A video still showing the KPS Trustees meeting Thursday evening

The Trustees made both decisions at a meeting Thursday.

Support staff for the Kalamazoo Public Schools turned out in force at last night’s school board meeting. The workers demanded salary hikes and got a positive response from trustees. At the same meeting, the school board members decided to keep a mask mandate in place until at least the April 7 meeting.

Masks

KPS will reassess its masking mandate in the coming weeks, but officials said for now it will remain in place, since another spike may be just over the horizon.

The district goes on spring break this month and previous breaks have led to outbreaks. Superintendent Rita Raichoudhuri says many things could change between now and the April 7th meeting when the board will revisit the mandate.

Raichoudhuri said infection rates overseas are surging again.

“Experts warn that the U.S. could soon see a similar wave, potentially by the new B.A.2 variant,” she said.

Several members of the public spoke about masks, all of them in favor of keeping the mandate.

Wages

After a brief picket before the meeting, support staff came inside and told the school board they were barely getting by before the pandemic. They said that now, with inflation, worker shortages and increased pressures, things are even worse.

Workers from bus drivers to cooks, from para-professionals to security staff are in short supply at KPS and in many other districts across the country.

The comments prompted Trustee Tandy Moore to suggest a wage study, a first step toward raising salaries and benefits. The board approved the motion unanimously.