More KC districts acknowledge possibility of virtual school to begin 2020-21

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Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 19:33:10-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department has advised Kansas City Public Schools against resuming in-person classes next month when the 2020-21 school year is scheduled to start.

But KCPS isn’t the only Missouri district confronted with the decision as cases continue to spike across Kansas and Missouri — fueled, in part, by a surge of cases in the Kansas City area.

The Center School District is among other districts in KCMO playing the waiting game and preparing contingencies.

“At this time, we are monitoring numbers, working with public health officials and government agencies to determine the best course of action,” Christina Medina, the director of public relations for Center schools, said. “As we explore, we are looking at options that may include starting after the already slated first day of school August 24, 2020 and potentially looking at more virtual options for all students. We will continue to navigate the fluid situation and share more information as it becomes available.”

Districts in the KC area have been planning for in-person and virtual classes since the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in mid-March.

Hickman Mills C-1 Schools expect to begin with virtual learning given the positivity and hospitalization rates amid the surging number of new cases.

Our plan outlines three phases that will determine whether or not we are providing in-person or distance learning...,” Marissa Cleaver Wamble, director of public information and partnerships for Hickman Mills schools, said in an email to 41 Action News. “We will be guided by science in regard to the number of virus cases, as well as the guidance of the KCMO and state health officials. We have already advised HMC-1 staff and parents that we are likely to start the school year with distance/virtual learning due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the city, particularly among the minority communities.”

Park Hill’s reopening plan offers similar flexibility with in-person and virtual options for families. The district didn’t rule out the possibility of starting 2020-21 completely online.

“This is always on the table in Park Hill, as the situation keeps changing rapidly, but for now, the data is different in Platte County, and we are moving forward with our reopening plans,” Superintendent Jeanette Cowherd said Monday in a letter to Park Hill families.

She added, “We don’t know how things will change, but we do know we will do what we have always done — make the best decision possible for our students, staff and families and communicate it as quickly as possible.”

Gov. Laura Kelly has announced plans to delay the start of school in Kansas until after Labor Day, but the Kansas State Board of Education has yet to weigh in. It has called a special meeting for Wednesday.