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Blue Valley School District Board of Education rescinds JoCo Health Department's gating criteria

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Posted at 9:33 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 00:12:36-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — UPDATE, 9:58 p.m. | The Blue Valley School District Board of Education has rescinded the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment gating criteria. A new committee will use the Kansas Department of Education's criteria alongside local data to determine its own criteria. In the meantime, all sports activities for student athletes will continue.

EARLIER | While some Johnson County schools districts decided to go virtual and stop all sports, Blue Valley still is weighing the options on what it is described as a "heavy decision on a very complicated issue.”

Tuesday night, student-athletes from across the Blue Valley district put team rivalries aside and united under a single message.

Hours earlier, the Johnson County Health Department recommended school districts begin the academic year remotely because of the continued increase of COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Chris Jenson, medical consultant and educator for the Blue Valley School District said, the year will “ebb and flow” no other because of the virus.

“We will plan and we will use migration strategies," he said.

Some attendees at the school board meeting were wary of the methods that led to the county’s recommendation, saying they don't consider many factors.

"We’re asking you to give us the choice,” Michelle Mitchell, a parent, told the school board, “and let us evaluate the risks and do what's best for our families.”

An overwhelming majority of those who attended the meeting at Blue Valley Northwest High School want their children back in the classroom.

"Allow them to stay in school so we don't see an epidemic of mental health issues and suicides,” Dr. Christine White, a pediatrician and a parent, said, “and most importantly, so our children can learn.”

Students who addressed the board also want to return to school.

"Playing high school sports is a voluntary action,” Ethan Hunt, a Blue Valley Northwest soccer player, said. “Those who don't feel safe, they have the option to opt out. However, for those of us who decide to participate, I promise you that the student athletes of Blue Valley will follow any health and safety precautions.”

Regardless, district leaders are drafting plans if fall sports don't proceed.

"I would rather have our students in Blue Valley, with our coaches and sponsors in our district, than outside of our district," said David Stubblefield, executive director of school administration for the Blue Valley School District.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Ethan Hunt.