Kansas Board of Education rejects Gov. Kelly’s plan to reopen schools after Labor Day

Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas State Board of Education voted to reject Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order postponing school reopening in a Wednesday meeting.

In a 5 to 5 vote, the board rejected Gov. Kelly’s executive order to delay school openings for about three more weeks.

Opponents of the order said the decision to deny the governor was about local control.

“There is nothing in this executive order that could not already be done by any district if it chose to do so,” said board member Jean Clifford. “Districts can determine their start date as they see fit at this time. Those districts who do not feel ready to open can and should delay or consider delaying their opening.”

Gov. Kelly signed an executive order to delay school reopening to after Labor Day on Monday, her decision drawing approval and push back from state officials.

Supporters wanted the order because of the rising number of coronavirus cases. The extra time could have given schools a longer chance to prepare how they will operate during the crisis.

“Our teachers were not trained when they got their education degrees to do anything but teach in a classroom,” said board member Janet Waugh. “They need to be trained on how to teach this and teach their subject area.”

When K-12 schools reopen, students and staff will be required to follow safety measures including:

  • Students 6th grade and up, all staff and visitors should wear face masks.
    • Students 5th grade and under will likely be distracted by masks, and are therefore not included in this recommendation.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6-feet, when possible.
  • All students and staff should wash their hands every hour.
  • Students and staff who are sick should stay home.
  • Daily temperature screenings of all students and staff.
    • This recommendation was made, but understood to potentially be too time-consuming and difficult for schools, especially those with large student populations.

According to Will Lawrence, Chief of Staff, the reasons behind Gov. Kelly’s order include:

  • The rising number of coronavirus cases.
  • Giving schools more time to prepare for the school year.
  • Offering predictability for families and employers for school schedules.

None of the provisions of the executive order apply to home schools or students learning remotely.

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