Kansas Congressional District 1 candidates weigh in on schools opening

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW)- They want your vote for U.S. Congress. This week, KSN sat down with five candidates running for Kansas Congressional District 1.

We are just six days away from the Kansas August Primary. On Thursday, you’re hearing from the candidates who hope to represent Kansas from “The Big First.” We got each of their takes on the decision to open Kansas schools, safety and COVID-19. It comes just days after the Kansas Board of Education voted 5-5 rejecting Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order to delay the start of school.

“I’m a physician, and I understand the medical issues,” said Bill Clifford, R-Congressional Candidate for Kansas 1st District. “They want to manage their own risk, and my advice has certainly been to maintain social distancing, wear a mask where you feel like you can’t maintain separation.”

Like Clifford, Jerry Molstad and Tracey Mann also think individual school districts should make the decision on when to re-open school and not Governor Kelly. But there are different perspectives on safety.

“You can’t put a blanket over everybody and say you can’t do this,” said Molstad. “My sister is up in Kansas City or Olathe, and she’s 62. So she’s not a 22-year-old teacher who’s just come out, there
is some age factors in this.”

“We absolutely need to open our schools,” said Mann. “I don’t think this disease is going anywhere. We’ve got to figure out how to move forward and live with it as a society and as a state.”

But Democrats running for this soon to be vacant House seat are concerned about schools not only not having enough money to keep students and teachers safe, but also districts not having the technology in place so they can continue to learn if schools are forced to shut down again.

“I stand with Governor Kelly,” said Kali Barnett, D-Congressional Candidate for Kansas 1st District. “It’s nearly impossible to ask a young child to sit in one place and stay and even under normal circumstances.”

“These aren’t easy decisions to make,” said Christy Cauble Davis, D-Congressional Candidate for Kansas 1st District. “We’ve had an 8 year old, with no school no camp, no child care, and I know a lot of folks agree with me it would be great to go back to school but only if we can do that safely.”

KSN reached out to Republican candidate Michael Soetaert multiple times for an on camera interview, but he declined.

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