Kansas City-area school districts working to bring students back in the fall

Indian Valley Elementary School
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 13:00:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Students in the Kansas City metro have not been inside their school buildings since March, but come August, they could be back in the classroom.

“My kids need routine and structure and it's so important that that comes back,” said Maggie Brooks-Heilman, a parent.

Some parents are looking forward to sending their children back to school, while others are on the fence about in-person learning.

“I of course have concerns for both my daughter going back to elementary school and me going back as a high school teacher,” parent and teacher Angie DalBello said.

Concerns over class sizes and proper social distancing have some parents worried.

“She was lucky last year, there were 20 in her class and the year before that there were 25. There’s just no way you can space 25 or even 20 kids, for that matter, physically around in a room, so that’s one concern I have,” DalBello said.

School districts across the metro are working on plans for the fall.

Many in Johnson County told 41 Action News they’re waiting until July 10, when the state is expected to release guidelines, to finalize their plans. The Olathe, Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission and De Soto school districts are planning on the return of students in the fall but have said they will adjust as needed.

“They’re looking at three options: online distance learning, coming back to school in the fall with modifications, or some hybrid of the two things,” DalBello said.

Schools in Wyandotte County, which remains in Phase 3 of the state’s Ad Astra plan, will return to school based on the guidelines listed in each phase.

“We don’t know, you know, how much we’re going to be able to open up. We just want to be especially careful with our children,” said Dr. Erin Corriveau, deputy medical officer of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, Public Health Department.

Phase 3 allows 100% of students back in the school building. Phase 2 means 50% of students could be inside the building, which would have students attending classes in shifts. Phase 1 is virtual learning, which has been a concern many parents share.

“I can do the best I can and I’m just like everyone else, you do what you have to do. It was definitely hard," Brooks-Heilman said. "Do I want to continue to do it? No."

Wyandotte County health officials have not ordered masks to be worn in schools, but it is a possibility.

“If it gets to the point where we need to do that, we may consider that in the future depending on which phase that we’re in, so that’s something that’s under consideration,” Corriveau said.