KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson met with Kansas City-area school leaders Thursday about their reopening plans for the fall semester.
Parson said reopening plans may look different in different parts of the state, noting how diverse Missouri is in terms of rural and metropolitan areas.
The governor said education leaders are also trying to strike a balance between safety and learning.
“How are the administrators moving forward, and what are the hurdles that happen as they try to balance the safety and the education of kids?” Parson said. “We're trying to figure out how we all move forward, how I can help with that situation.”
Parson said one compelling factor in getting kids back in school is the children who may have challenges at home with virtual learning because of their socioeconomic or health status.
“I am extremely worried about kids in low-income and poverty situations, kids with disabilities, that could be very easily (see) some kids to get left out of the system,” Parson said. “Many kids will have the ability to go virtual that have the ability to do that, but there's gonna be a lot of kids out there that will not.”
The governor said officials will continue to monitor case numbers in Missouri as a potential first day back to school approaches.
“I think one thing is evident. I think everybody understands that the virus is here, we're going to have to deal with it,” Parson said. “We all know what the numbers are each day, each week, as we see how that affects us, how it affects our decisions. Everything changes daily.”
Executive Director of Crossroads Charter Schools Dean Johnson said one of the big topics of discussion in the meeting was finding a balance between local control and guidance from the state. Johnson said the governor made it clear he is a big believer in letting school leaders make decisions for their own communities, but school leaders were urging for more guidance on how to do that.
"He was very receptive to the idea of offering some more direct guidance from the state on a rubric for measuring pandemic conditions and how it should affect our school opening decisions," Johnson said.
Johnson said a charter school-specific topic also was discussed about how schools measure attendance rates. Unlike public schools, charter schools are not traditionally allowed to use past data to make up the average daily attendance, which drives funding.
Johnson said charter schools are asking for an emergency rule change considering there will likely be more absences among students this year.