KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Although summer is just getting underway for many kids, parents and students already are wondering what school will be like come next fall.
The 2020-21 school year and COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges for families with school-age children — including remote learning, child-care challenges, parents helping to home school on the fly and more.
Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System along with Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said early this week they believe the 2021-22 school year will look much more “normal.”
The doctors anticipate many school districts will see fewer and fewer students in remote or hybrid learning models.
As for mask and vaccine requirements, they don’t believe schools will be stringent.
It’s the doctors’ belief schools won’t require vaccinations and likely will not require masks by late summer when school begins again, either.
Rather, they’ll operate on a recommendation basis.
The doctors said quarantining will look different in the new school year, too.
Those exposed to COVID-19 who are vaccinated may not need to quarantine, monitoring instead for potential symptoms.
Norman said that Kansas’ statewide guidance remains in place, including social-distancing recommendations and a mask recommendation for unvaccinated people.
However, he pointed out that local jurisdictions and school boards have the “ultimate say” in what happens in the county, city or school.
Norman said the state health department will keep its recommendations until it’s time for children to be vaccinated.
Overall, he expects Kansas will resemble “an odd patchwork quilt” as local authorities decide which recommendations to follow and which to toss.
The doctors all agreed that summer school will be a good test as restrictions continue to loosen.
While fewer students will be enrolled, there will be enough to provide an indicator for community health officials regarding which health precautions are still necessary and which aren’t.
The doctors also agreed it's important for children to get back in school, but that that doesn't come without work and diligence on the community's part in terms of vaccines.