KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Educators and teachers union representatives from around the state had an opportunity to share their back to school concerns with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly in a webinar Thursday morning.
State Sen. Dinah Sykes (D-Lenexa) was also on the call, which covered a wide range of topics including high school sports, mental health concerns and mask mandates.
One of the first issues that came up was the cancellation of fall sports in some districts.
“How do we stick to what is safe for students, however, listen to the voice of both the community and the student athlete who is looking for those scholarships?” asked Jamila Harris, a school counselor in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public School District.
Kelly said the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHAA) is currently discussing moving spring sports to the fall.
“Those tend to be more solitary sports, like golf and tennis and cross country,” Kelly said. “Then, let’s push off the more contact sports, whether basketball or football, to the spring in the hopes that we’ll perhaps have a vaccine by then, or we’ll have the virus more under control.”
On the state level, Kelly said discussions are also underway about expanding access to childcare.
The Kansas Children’s Cabinet is looking to lift licensing regulations for certain daycares to provide more flexibility, especially for the parents of kids who are on hybrid school schedules. The state hopes to work with organizations like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Kelly also said she will seek a more firm ruling on mask mandates in schools.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt previously issued an opinion that counties, as well as local school districts, have the authority to opt out of the mandates.
Kelly, along with the attorneys she consulted, believes the interpretation of the law is incorrect.
“I would hope our elected officials in Kansas would stop playing politics with this. These are people’s lives. These are our children,” she said.