TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Gov. Laura Kelly ordered all K-12 schools in Kansas to close for the remainder of the school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This situation has evolved rapidly and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” Gov. Kelly said. “The reality of this pandemic is that it cannot be controlled statewide if school buildings return to normal operations, or if they respond to inconsistently within our local communities.”
Gov. Kelly made the announcement Tuesday, joined by Dr. Randy Watson, Commissioner for the Kansas State Department of Education who also addressed the situation.
“The steps we’re announcing today will create the space we need at the state level… so that we can get ahead of this threat and limit its long term impact,” Kelly said.
The purpose of the news conference is to discuss developments and recommendations regarding coronavirus. The state said it will give school districts guidelines to follow for the rest of the semester.
“Closing classrooms and moving to this continuous learning plan… can in no way replicate the great learning that goes on in our world-class schools,” Dr. Watson said. He also said resources will be provided to public and private schools for online learning going forward.
This will impact half a million students. The Governor said superintendents were briefed today, parents and teacher will be briefed on the impact within 24 hours.
Education will include small group sessions and online courses. 40 of the top educators in the state will be working up guidelines for each school district to respond to.
Governor Kelly will decide before August if school can be held in the next school year. School boards are being asked to examine graduation requirements to see that seniors can graduate on time.
They are working to engage all students with unequal access along with providing school meals.
The Kansas House also approved a bill that would give jobless workers an additional 10 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Governor Kelly said 18,000 executive branch employees are ordered to stay home starting Monday for two weeks. Some will work remotely, a majority on administrative leave and will be paid.
“This is not an attempt to lay off any way. Employees will be paid, both salary and hourly employees,” Governor Kelly said.
You can watch the full press conference below:
This is a developing story.