KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the traditional start of school roughly two months away, education officials in Wyandotte County announced Monday an outline of what the first day of school might look like this fall.
Under its phased reopening plan, the county currently is in the third phase, which is scheduled to last until at least July 6.
Officials acknowledged they don’t know what phase the county will be in by the time school is slated to start in mid- to late August, but even in its current phase, leaders would plan to open all K-12 schools at regular capacity for student instruction and activities.
The guidelines, which were put together with education and health leaders across the county, would allow parents and guardians of K-12 students the choice to not enter their child into school and for schools to offer remote and online options when possible. The guidelines anticipate that most secondary education will continue virtually, with hands-on learning offered in instances with social distancing and limited student interaction.
Student athletic practices would be allowed per guidance from the Kansas State High School Athletics Association. Students would be separated into grade pods and share lunch time. Interaction with other grades would be limited.
Masks would be recommended for all employees, students and visitors in public areas.
Monday’s guidance also covered early childhood care and education. In those guidelines, officials say children who live with vulnerable adults should not be in child care. Children can be sent to day care, but only in rooms of 25 or fewer children. Each room would require consistent caregivers and the same children each day. Staff and children at least 2 years old would wear face coverings.
“We know the sooner we release guidance, the better – our schools need to start planning for the 2020-21 school year now,” Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, Public Health Department Deputy Medical Director Dr. Erin Corriveau said Monday in a news release. “A committee of educators from schools across our county and public health experts have collaborated to develop standards for each reopening phase. We are still fighting to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and we could find ourselves at different reopening phases over the course of the school year.”
Mask wearing was a consistent theme in the guidelines, which recommends them for use. However, health officials say the recommendations could turn into a requirement depending on the circumstances.
Corriveau says health officials are “seriously considering” a health order that would require those in schools to wear a mask.
“Data we are seeing from other countries shows an increased risk of the virus spreading in schools when masks aren’t worn,” Corriveau said. “Some countries had to close schools again as a result. Wearing masks will give us a better chance of keeping schools open for longer.”
More information about Wyandotte County’s Education ReStart program is available online.