Governor Laura Kelly announced Wednesday that she will sign an executive order on Monday that will delay the opening of the 2020-21 school year until after Labor Day for all Kansas school districts.
“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.”
USD 413 Superintendent Dr. Kellen Adams said the district is unsure how it will proceed in the future.
“At this time, it is uncertain how this will affect our school calendar, school activities, or a myriad of other related items. This information was not known by anyone in the district prior to this afternoon,” he said. “We will be working on a number of items as it relates to the return of the 2020-21 school year, including how today’s announcement will impact those decisions.”
Adams said more information will be distributed as soon as it is available.
Kelly made the decision in consultation with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas State Department of Education, which continue to monitor health metrics and disease spread in the state.
The state had a record number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with more than 20,000 cases. Kelly said that ICU capacity in some of the state’s hospitals are under threat and nearly 300 Kansans have died.
Schools will be required to mandate common sense mitigation strategies outlined in the Kansas State Board of Education’s plan for schools. Under the recommended plan, which was 1,088 pages long, masks, social distancing, proper hygiene and daily temperature checks will be enforced regardless of the Kansas school district.
“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,” she 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.”
points to BOE
TOPEKA — Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe), Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa) issued the following statement regarding the governor’s announcement to delay Kansas school openings:
“The safety of our Kansas children must come first, but children’s needs for education, socialization and the many other services they receive through our schools are also vital. Those same legislators the governor criticized today are the ones who voted to fully fund our schools and close an achievement gap that current decisions threaten to widen. This issue is too important to play partisan politics. That is exactly why we passed HB 2016 so no governor would have unilateral power and instead we would have checks and balances to decisions like this one that affect our children, our families and our schools.”
“The governor has made her recommendation but ultimately this is up to the State Board of Education. They will have final say next week. We encourage all Kansans to contact the members of the State Board of Education with your views on when schools should open.”