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USD 259 JROTC to move activities outdoors, some events canceled because of COVID-19

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As some students are getting a glimpse at what learning remotely will look like, some district activities are finalizing their plans, too.

“We’re teaching kids to be successful in life,” said Col. Bob Hester, JROTC. “We want them to set goals for themselves. We want them to be prepared.”

As many of the students are navigating a new normal of virtual learning, Col. Hester said he wants them to get outdoors for JROTC.

With more than 25 years under his belt in Wichita Public Schools, he said this pandemic has been one of the most difficult times.

“This gives [students] an opportunity to get away from the computer and the house and get them together with their friends and other people on their teams,” said Col. Hester.

Many JROTC events are canceled because of COVID-19 including the Veterans Day Ceremony that typically includes more than 2,400 cadets. The Veterans Day Parade has also been canceled.

But some competitions and the physical fitness competition will still go on, but with restrictions like social distancing.

“Kids work in two-person teams and we give them a map and a compass and they go out and find different locations over a two or three-mile course,” said Col. Hester.

Whether it’s JROTC, debate, orchestra or another activity, educators said what the student’s are learning provides vital leadership skills and prepares them for a career.

“You cannot necessarily be a pure leader in the classroom,” said Dean Steffen, JROTC instructor. “The only way you can truly get that opportunity is if you are part of our extracurricular opportunities.”

The cadets will be staying local for their events to avoid travel for at least the first nine weeks of school.

JROTC officials said they will be following the district’s restrictions and guidelines.

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