KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said Tuesday that the city recommends schools not reopen until after Labor Day at the earliest.
Lucas and Kansas City Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer announced the guidelines at a news conference on Tuesday morning. Lucas emphasized all of the items are simply guidelines and are up to school districts to put in place. They are not mandates.
The main guideline is that Kansas City is recommending schools not open until Tuesday, Sept. 8. Archer said that the Labor Day date will allow the city to get a better grasp on where COVID-19 numbers are headed so that schools can better approach learning.
North Kansas City Schools said in a statement on its Facebook page that district leaders and the Board of Education will consider "the potential impact" to its plans for returning to the classroom.
"There are many factors to weigh," the statement read. "Consideration will certainly be given to the safety of our students and staff as we prepare for learning this fall. We will communicate to our NKC Schools staff members and families to make them aware of any changes once options have been discussed and decisions made."
The city also is asking that schools better organize students into classrooms as the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 increases with age.
Lucas said there is no plan to close all school buildings to in-person classes. Instead, if there is an outbreak, the city would like to approach it by classroom or building and only close down what is necessary to contain the virus.
Archer explained that schools count as public spaces, and masks will be required, which includes on buses. He recommended students have an assigned seat on their bus.
The mayor expressed concern for students whose learning will be hindered by not being in school buildings and said he hopes the city's guidelines will help those students get back to learning faster.
Lucas also asked that area counties — Jackson, Cass, Platte and Clay counties — assist with funding of schools as they balance hybrid learning styles.
Part of that money should go toward getting teachers personal protective eqiupment (PPE) to stay safe on the job, according to the mayor.
Another recommendation from the city is that no youth sports leagues host large tournaments until after school starts in order to keep students healthy and not be a source of COVID-19 spread.
The guidelines come a day after the health department recommended Kansas City Public Schools not hold in-person classes in the fall because of COVID-19 cases rising in the area.
It also comes the day after Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly pushed the start of school activities in the state to after Labor Day. That executive order will be reviewed by the board of education later this week.