Kelly signs executive order on COVID-19 precautions in schools; delay of school startup to be considered Wednesday by State Board of Education

Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday signed an executive order requiring masks, daily temperature checks, social distancing and hourly hand sanitizing in Kansas schools. Kelly said she would sign an additional executive order delaying the start of school until Sept. 9 once the State Board of Education approves it.

Approval by the State Board of Education, however, isn’t a given. The State Board has scheduled a special online meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday to take up the executive order on delaying school. The board announced it would accept public comment on the issue until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Here is a link to submit comment.

Based on reports, board members are being lobbied heavily on both sides of the issue.

Kelly urged State Board members to approve the delay. “I’m asking each State Board of Education member to put politics aside and think about our children, their parents, their teachers and the survival of our main street businesses,” she said.

Kelly, who was the first governor in the country to shut down schools statewide in March, said delaying the start of the school year will give education leaders time to work with county officials in securing masks, thermometers and hand sanitizer. The delay will also allow local education officials time to thoroughly review what opening strategy will work best.

But most importantly, Kelly said, the extra time will give Kansas the opportunity to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate and get the number of cases trending downward.

Kelly cited statistics showing the pandemic is surging in Kansas and said schools need more time to prepare to open buildings, which would normally happen in mid-August.

Kansas has surpassed 300 COVID deaths with eight more having died over the weekend. The Kansas City metro area is hitting record increases in pandemic cases.

“I am taking a stand for what I know is right. I will continue to use every resource and tool available to my administrations to protect Kansans and keep the economy open for business, regardless of the political push back,” Kelly said.

The executive order says all students, faculty, staff, vendors and other visitors to public or private K-12 schools must cover their mouth and nose with a mask. It requires six-feet of distance between individuals and students and staff to sanitize their hands no less than once every hour. In addition, everyone entering a school building shall have their temperatures checked before coming in.

Kelly said the order delaying schools will not allow attendance, instruction, athletic practice, extracurricular activities or online instruction until Sept. 9.

Under the proposal, students enrolled concurrently to receive college credit may attend classes in locations other than K-12 schools and enrollment, screenings and evaluations of students can occur.



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