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Gov. Kelly to issue executive order to delay start school until after Labor Day

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss an education plan for the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. The governor announced that she will issue an executive order delaying the start of school until after Labor Day.

“I cannot in good conscience open schools when Kansas has numerous hotspots where cases are at an all-time high and continuing to rapidly rise,” Said Kelly.

The Governor made this decision in consultation with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Education, which continues to monitor health metrics and disease spread in the state.

Gov. Kelly says she will be issuing another executive order to make those mitigation strategies that are in the board’s plan mandatory. The order will mandate temperature checks, masks, and social distancing at schools. The order is expected to be signed Monday.

“That means masks, social distancing, proper hygiene and daily temperature checks will be enforced regardless of the county the schools are in,” said Kelly.

The governor says the extra three weeks will allow more time for schools to work with its counties to acquire the necessary mitigation supplies. She says the extra time will also allow them to monitor the infection rate.

“Supplies like masks thermometers and hand sanitizer and it allow each superintendent to thoroughly review the plan from the board of education to figure out what strategy is best for their district,” said Kelly.  “The board and I are united in prioritizing the health of our students and faculty and ensuring we provide a world-class education for our students.”

Wichita Public Schools say they are still discussing its ‘Future Ready Return to School’ plan and say the safety of its students has always been its top priority.

The safety of our students and our staff has always been the top priority as we develop our Future Ready Return to School plan. We appreciate Governor Kelly and our Kansas Board of Education for also keeping safety in the forefront. There is a lot we will need to learn about the details of Governor Kelly’s executive orders as it relates to our planning work, and we will provide more information as soon as possible. Because we have our third Board of Education workshop scheduled on July 17, we anticipate that the BOE will have conversation about the executive orders during that workshop.

Wichita Public Schools.

Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) will wait until the official order to come down before giving an official comment on upcoming fall sports.

The KSHSAA believes participation in school and school activities is critical for the students of Kansas and we strive to provide those opportunities for students this fall. This Friday (7/17) the KSHSAA had planned to distribute considerations and guidance for all fall activities to take place starting August 17. With the announcement today (7/15) from Governor Kelly, we will not release any information Friday. Rather we will go back and look at models and plans that are in place with a delayed start and release information when appropriate.

Kansas State High School Activities Association

The Governor says the executive order till apply to all K-12 activities or academics.

“Kansas State High School Activities Association oversees sports you know theater, drama, debate all those kinds of things so yeah, sports will be included in that,” said Gov. Laura Kelly. “The intent of delaying the opening of schools is to delay the onset of any school-related activities and that would include practice.”

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.”

On Wednesday morning, the Kansas Department of Education discussed the “Navigating Change: Kansas’ Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations” document. Cory Gibson, superintendent of Valley Center USD 262 and who was a chair of the oversight committee shared how the document was created. The board approved the plan 9-0. Follow the meeting updates on Twitter.

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