WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita parents, teachers, and students learned the fate of the fall semester Thursday night as the school district continues to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
By a vote of 5-2, the USD 259 Board of Education approved onsite classes and remote learning for students pre-K through fifth grades and remote classes for students sixth through 12th grades. Details are listed on the USD 259 website. The decision will last nine weeks with the option for the district to convene the COVID Advisory Committee to request a change if conditions warrant.
Board members Ben Blankley and Ron Rosales voted against, and Julie Hedrick, Mike Rodee, Sheril Logan, Stan Reeser, and Ernestine Krehbiel voted for it. Members said that the decision wasn’t easy.
“This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make, and I’ve been on this board when we had to close buildings when we had to cut $90 million out of our budget over six years, so every year we were cutting things that I knew were hurting kids,” said Logan, board president.
“I would really kind of liked to have the middle school come back to school, but I am going to go with what the doctors said tonight,” said Krehbiel.
The United Teachers of Wichita also reacted.
“They said tonight we have 209 teachers being quarantined right now. That’s an issue. We don’t have kids in the building yet. We don’t need subs yet so right now, OK, that works. But when we get back to school, what is going to happen when we don’t have enough subs?” said Kimberly Howard, United Teachers of Wichita president.
The decision also means that there will be no all-school activities and no high-risk activities including football, wrestling, choir, band, and JROTC.
Parents also had opinions. Mandy Zinn Anderson has three children in USD 259. She believes it is not safe to send the kids back to class in person. She was thankful for the input from doctors.
“I believe it’s the best thing for our community and the best thing for our students as well as the staff for 259 now,” said Anderson.
Another mother, Krystle Snodgrass, tells KSN News she was not happy with the board’s decision. She has three children in different grade levels and is wondering how she will be able to balance the different schedules. She is worried her sixth-grader will fall behind.
“They need to get back to school. I can’t do it if I have to go to work. That means I have to find day care and stuff for them. I have to work.”
For the latest information from the Wichita Public Schools, click here.