Topeka 501 schools see rise in enrollment numbers, prefer hybrid courses


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Sara Myer of Topeka has three kids in the Topeka Public Schools district.

She said her kids’ safety will always come first, even above their education.

“They will always be able to catch up on math, or whatever,” Myer said. “If they were to catch the virus or potentially get it and then infect someone else that’s high risk, that’s a really hard thing to swallow.”

Topeka Public Schools’ leaders are taking these concerns from parents into account, come the return of school on September 9.

The district has students taking classes completely virtual as part of its Phase One reopening plan.

“They’re sending their treasures to us, and they want to know that we will be as careful with their children as they are when they have them at home,” said Jill Hackett, associate superintendent of Topeka Public Schools. “By having a choice I think parents feel like they have a vested interest.”

That choice being whether to have their children enroll in completely virtual school once the Phase One ends, or a hybrid option of both in-person and online schooling.

“We can practice social distancing, we can practice the appropriate spacing that we need for any of our classes,” Hackett said. “We can also make sure that we’re keeping all of the environments clean and sanitary and sprayed down.”

The students will have in-person classes twice a week, based off their first letter in their last name.

Then, the rest of the week is online.

“Ideally, I think that that little bit of social interaction that they’ll get for those two days a week is going to help them greatly, but I’m not rushing to send them back to school five days a week by any means,” Myer said.

The district held an in-person enrollment on Thursday, which showed that more parents are choosing to enroll their children in the hybrid learning.

However, almost 10% of parents have instead signed up for the online option, Hackett said.

The district said they are unsure when the hybrid learning, which is at the beginning of Phase Two, will begin.

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