Wednesday afternoon, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly delayed the start of school until after Labor Day.
The announcement followed one of the most significant surges in COVID-19 infections around the state of Kansas, which Kelly said factored into the choice to delay the start of school.
Monday, a record spike in virus cases pushed Kansas past 20,000 total cases. ICU capacity in some Kansas hospitals are under threat and nearly 300 people have died across the state, Kelly said.
“I can’t in good conscience open schools when cases in our state are at an all-time high and continuing to rapidly rise,” Kelly said. “Every action I have taken throughout this pandemic has been done to keep Kansans healthy, keep our state open for business and get our kids back in school.”
Schools will also be required to have a mitigation plan in place when buildings do open. Masks, social distancing, proper hygiene, and routine, daily temperature checks will be the new normal when school does come back into session.
“The additional three weeks before opening schools will provide schools time to work with their counties to get the necessary mitigation supplies like masks, thermometers, and hand sanitizer,” Kelly said. “The Kansas State Board of Education and I are united in prioritizing the health of our students and faculty, and ensuring we provide a world-class education for our students.”
President of the Unified School District 475 Board of Education Rina Neal reacted to the decision yesterday after the announcement.
“These past few months have been a challenge for everyone and has caused us to examine how we educate and support the needs of our staff, students and family during these unprecedented times,” she said. “Our goal as a district is to ensure we are providing a high quality education in the safest environment possible.”
Neal said district administrators and staff had been working to create a plan that fit both the guidance coming down from the state level and the needs of the district’s more than 7,000 students and their families.
“I want to commend them for their efforts and their commitment to students first,” she said of the district leadership and staff. “The decision and manner in which how we reopen school is based on the guidance of the Governor, State Department of Education and our local health department. With the second wave of COVID-19 adversely impacting the State of Kansas and there being so many unknowns, I believe that this is the best decision with the information we have available.”