KANSAS CITY, Mo. — School districts in Missouri and Kansas are required to return to in-person learning this school year. But if COVID-19 outbreaks start to occur, switching to remote learning won’t be easy.
“School has to be in person, or there’s the potential of losing funding,” Kansas Sen. Cindy Holscher said. If you shut down and go remote.”
Holscher, who represents District 8, said the legislature has changed Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive powers. Any emergency order the governor would put in place would have to be reviewed by a committee that has already said it will not uphold executive orders pertaining to shut downs and masking.
“If a school shuts down, then we’re talking about making up what would really be called snow days,” Holscher said. “That could go into the summer that could, you know, affect everybody’s schedule.”
With remote-hybrid options out the window, parents said, it’s going to create headaches.
“We’re going to have kids at home, and it’s going to be back on the parents’ responsibility to create some sort of structure and to create some sort of lesson plans,” Sloan Heller, whose two children attend Blue Valley Schools, said. “While we’re balancing our own work schedules. Not all of us have the luxury to be at home in front of a computer and on Zoom calls. We have doctors, we have essential workers.”
Heller believes masking up is key to ensure schools can stay open. But the Blue Valley School District recently voted to make masking optional, despite new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
“What sort of message does that send to our students, right?” Heller said. “We’re sending a message that it’s OK to defy what the CDC says. It’s OK to defy what the American Academy of Pediatrics says. Is that the type of message that we want to send?”
On the Missouri side, Hickman Mills C-1 School District is closely monitoring the number of new cases. More than 200 of their 5,500 students have chosen to start the school year virtual, despite a lack of guidance at the state level.
“The state hasn’t given us any direction that we can go to a hybrid, that if we were to do that it’d be financial penalties for us,” Superintendent Yaw Obeng said. “Like even when we offer virtual, we don’t get the full 100% funding as we would if we’re in face-to-face, so they’re encouraging everyone to go face-to-face.”
The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education provided the following statement to KSHB 41 News:
A rule approved by the Missouri State Board of Education (State Board) for the 2020-21 school year gave local education agencies (LEAs) the ability to provide instruction in a hybrid model; the State Board rescinded that rule, effective July 30, 2021. It is the expectation of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that for the 2021-22 school year all schools will return to the provisions in place prior to the pandemic, including full-time onsite instruction and virtual education enrollment as allowed by Missouri statute. This expectation has been communicated to Missouri school leaders in a number of ways in recent months.
Remote learning options were in place for Missouri students/families interested in that mode of instruction prior to the pandemic through the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program (MOCAP), per state statute (Section 161.670, RSMo [revisor.mo.gov]). MOCAP has developed a catalog of virtual online courses for students. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, students have been able to take an entire course from any internet-connected computer, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. MOCAP’s mission is to offer Missouri students equal access to a wide range of high quality courses, flexibility in scheduling, and interactive online learning. DESE and the State Board of Education oversee administration and quality assurance activities such as related content and delivery of courses. LEAs that provide virtual education outside of MOCAP, under state statute (Section 162.1250, RSMo [revisor.mo.gov]), are responsible for ensuring alignment and other statutory requirements are met.
KSHB 41 News reached out to the Kansas State Department of Education and Kelly’s office asking for comment about remote learning in case of outbreak but neither replied to our requests.
Originally Appeared Here