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Nick’s Picks | Vaccines for Children, Mask Mandates and Funding Fights

Chiefs on Monday Night Football

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Tens of thousands of kid-size COVID shots are now on their way to the Kansas City area, just days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for children ages 5-11.

Vials of the two-shot vaccine are headed to pediatricians’ offices, hospitals and public health centers.

Those providers can’t begin administering doses quite yet. There’s one more box to check. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still has to sign off. But that’s expected to happen during a two-day meeting that starts Tuesday.

For parents in Kansas City, that could mean a vaccination appointment for their child as early as Thursday.

But just because the vaccine is available doesn’t mean parents will take their child to get it. 

A poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in September found that only 34% of parents would vaccinate their kids right away.

Mask Mandate

Is this the week Kansas City drops its mask mandate?

The mask order expires on Thursday and Mayor Quinton Lucas says as long as COVID cases continue to decline he’s not in favor of extending the order. Jackson County is expected to vote on its mask requirement later today.

According to the Mid-America Regional Council, daily COVID cases in the metro are down 4% since last week. They’ve dropped by more than half in the last two months.

Kansas Universities Demand Vaccine

The clash over vaccine mandates hits Kansas this week.

The state’s biggest universities are now requiring all workers and faculty be vaccinated or be fired.

Administrators at the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University say they’re under pressure from a new Biden administration policy that blocks schools from receiving federal research money if employees have not received the COVID shot.

What’s going to be interesting to watch this week is how Kansas lawmakers respond. Will they punch back by working to cut or eliminate state funding to schools that require the vaccine?

In May, lawmakers passed a measure barring any state-funded institutions, including universities, from requiring vaccine passports. 

And what’s this latest development mean for universities in Missouri? 

Last month, the Board of Curators voted to prohibit vaccine mandates for students, faculty and staff. 

Does that mean the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri will no longer qualify for federal research money? 

Election Day

Did you know there is an election on Tuesday?

Voters in Missouri from Independence to Parkville, Raytown to Lone Jack will be voting on a variety of local tax issues.

But most of the action is taking place on the Kansas side. Two big leadership contests have dominated news coverage.

Wyandotte County Mayor David Alvey is seeking a second four-year term. He’s being challenged by Tyrone Garner, a former top police leader in Kansas City, Kansas, who is vying to become the city’s first black mayor.

In Overland Park, City Councilman Curt Skoog and former AMC movie theater executive Mike Czinege are campaigning to succeed Mayor Carl Gerlach.

What have often been considered low-key, “bottom of the ballot” races for school board are also getting some surprising national attention. Division over mask mandates and the teaching of race in schools has fueled interest from out-of-state political groups. It’s brought with it sizable amounts of new campaign cash for local candidates. 

Police Funding

If you’re heading to Kansas City International Airport this week, you may notice one big change. No Kansas City police. 

Chief Rick Smith has opted to reassign officers from KCI as part of what he calls an ongoing staffing shortage. This is on top of a decision last week to eliminate the downtown foot patrol unit. 

Those changes will be up for discussion at Tuesday’s Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners meeting. 

They will also discuss a request from Smith for a 6% increase in the police department budget.

Climate Summit

President Joe Biden arrives in Glasgow, Scotland, today for the United Nations Climate Summit.

As world leaders meet to consider strategies to limit global warming, look for metro area governments to signal their climate change plans this week.

Kansas City will discuss a “climate emergency” ordinance at City Hall on Wednesday.

Monday Night Football

Tonight, the Kansas City Chiefs take on the New York Giants in Monday Night Football. 

Game time at Arrowhead Stadium is 7:15 p.m.

As you know, it can be kind of stressful watching the Chiefs right now. So if you are overly anxious or don’t like biting your nails, this might be a great night to head to the grocery store or do some early holiday shopping at the mall.

Royals, Chiefs, Sporting KC and Current

Next to Chiefs hats, Royals caps and Sporting KC jerseys, look for Current swag this week at your local sports store. 

Current is the new name for the Kansas City professional women’s soccer team. Just days after announcing a brand new stadium on the riverfront, the team’s ownership has rebranded and expects to begin shipping new team merchandise to stores later this week.

The name Current is intended to signify the power of the Missouri River and the current of energy and motion of the water.

The planned $70 million National Women's Soccer League stadium on the riverfront will be privately financed.
The planned $70 million National Women’s Soccer League stadium on the riverfront will be privately financed. (Rendering | Generator Studio)

World Series Champs

Major League Baseball will crown a World Series champion this week. 

But we’re not sure who, and we’re still not sure when. 

The Atlanta Braves remain one win away from its first championship since 1995.

But the Houston Astros are not giving in. 

Game 6 is Tuesday night. Game 7 (if it comes to that) is Wednesday night.

Day of the Dead

Just as you recover from Halloween, get ready for the Day of the Dead. 

Today marks Dia De Los Muertos, a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration.

The Disney animated movie “Coco” familiarized many Americans with the multi-day holiday.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is hosting Day of the Dead activities today, including a traditional altar display in collaboration with the Mattie Rhodes Art Center.

Visitors can add their remembrances and take home a special activity sheet. 

This Thursday, Day of the Dead becomes an all day celebration in Kansas City, Kansas, with food, live music, art and an evening parade.

The KCK Day of the Dead Celebration starts at 2 p.m. Thursday at 11th  Street and Central Avenue.

Holiday Lights

Is it too early for holiday lights? 

Even though we haven’t taken down our Halloween decorations yet, “Winter Magic” returns to Swope Park starting this Tuesday.

It’s a mile-long drive-through holiday light show with “the longest animated light tunnel in the Midwest.”

It’s a benefit for the Kansas City Parks Department and its summer camp scholarship fund.

It does cost money, but you pay by the car full. The price is $20 on weeknights.

If you can fit a lot of kids in your Toyota Prius it could be a cheap evening.

A family drives through a Winter Magic light display.
Winter Magic returns to Swope park this week. (Courtesy | Winter Magic)

Ice Returns

Another winter tradition begins this week in Kansas City.

The Crown Center Ice Terrace opens on Friday.

And if you arrive between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., you can skate for free.

Extra Sleep

And finally, some good news.

You get an extra hour in bed this week.

On Saturday night, we turn back the clocks one hour as Daylight Savings Time ends.

Lawmakers in Kansas and Missouri have talked about ending the clock shifting practice, but it’s never happened. 

Just in case you’re in a pub quiz or team trivia competition this week, Hawaii and Arizona are the only two states in the country that don’t mess with their clocks. Both states observe standard time throughout the year.

Nick Haines dissects the week’s most impactful local news stories, Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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