Parents prepare for extended school closings

Local News

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) — As students get ready to return from spring break, schools across the country are extending that break due to the coronavirus.

Several local districts made their announcements Friday afternoon.

The Riley County Health Department met with the Manhattan-Ogden school board where they ordered all schools in the district to remain closed until the end of the month.

Andrea Oleen has two students at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary in Manhattan.

She said she anticipated the closure and that she and her husband are rearranging their schedules to adjust.

“We’re both self-employed,” said Oleen. “So, my husband is going to work nine to five and then I plan to go in on the evenings and weekends if I have to so, we’re going to make it work.”

Riley County Health Officer Julie Gibbs said when deciding to cancel school, they wanted to be proactive rather than reactive.

“We know that a lot of families are traveling and we don’t know what’s that going to look like when they do come back,” said Gibbs. “So, that was a factor that went into that decision, another was the fact that we do have large classes, large class sizes.”

Riley County was one of the first counties to announce their school closings, and several other surrounding counties followed, including Shawnee County.

“The purpose is that by removing them from the school environment in the next weeks, we’ll at least mitigate the probability and reduce the probability that it will infect a large amount of people within the school setting,” said Shawnee County Health Officer Gianfranco Pezzino.

Gibbs said Riley County doesn’t currently have any confirmed cases of the virus. However, being near K-State and Ft. Riley, a lot of people come in to the area from out of state.

Classes at K-State have also been cancelled for the upcoming week.

“By doing this, we hope that we can keep that low-risk status,” said Gibbs.

While Andrea and her husband have to prepare to have the kids home for another couple weeks, she said she’s glad protective measures are being taken.

“I understand these cancellations do have to happen and I totally support them,” said Oleen.

Gibbs said that it’s up to parents to decide what to do in terms of child care, but they have been in communication with day care centers in the area and are providing them with the most current information about the virus and protective measures.

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