KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson sat down with 41 Action News Anchor Dia Wall on Thursday during a visit to Kansas City to discuss schools reopening; social justice, crime and policing; the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the state’s economy.
Some schools in Missouri have delayed reopening until after Labor Day and most are offering parents the option to keep their kids home for virtual learning as the pandemic continues to batter Parson’s state.
Here is an excerpt of Wall’s interview centered on education in Missouri after he met with KC-area school leaders on Thursday:
Dia Wall: What was your message for educators today and what was their message to you?
Gov. Mike Parson: "They would like some more guidance as far as what that policy looks like as a statewide guidance, so we'll go back and see if we can do some things to tweak that a little bit."
Wall: You got some backlash for saying that kids would contract COVID-19 when school resumes, but they would be fine. Do you understand why people were upset?
Parson: "Sure. I just didn't do a very good job articulating that point. One thing I wanted to say was it's going to happen in the schools because of the way it was happening all over the state. I didn't want people to go back and think, ‘OK, if I send my kid or school or if we're in a school setting that it's not going to happen, because it very well could and we will be prepared for that. But I have to tell you, my daughter is a school teacher and she lit me up for it too."
Wall: We’ve talked a lot about the lower risk of serious complications from the coronavirus for children, but I’ve got a lot of feedback saying what about the safety of teachers and support staff?
Parson: "There's nothing you can do to say that everything is going to be all right, because it might not be. If the virus gets there, it can affect them. Again, I think you have to go back to what is the risk? How do you feel like we can do that safely? I think there's a lot of people out there trying to figure out how to balance this and still be able to educate kids and still keep safety at the forefront. Those two things have got to be done."
Wall: I interviewed kids on going back to school. Here’s what a few of them had to say:
- "I'm happy he's pushing for schools to reopen, but also to be mindful about kids wearing their masks all day."
- "That would be a really bad choice, because the numbers are higher than they have been ever and a lot of kids might get sick and a few kids will die."
- “If my teachers are not going to be safe and my friends aren't going to be safe, I don't think anybody should be going back into school."
Governor, what are you telling the kids across the state about going back to school?
Parson: "Well I hope that's not the case. I think we all hope that. I think kids need to be educated. I don't think anybody disagrees with that and somewhere around 90% of parents think their kids need to go back to school. Right? Wrong? But that's what it is. If they don't have that teacher, if they don't have that medical support, whether that be a school nurse, if they don't have those meals to get, we got to figure out how to deal with that also."
Wall: In an effort to balance the Missouri budget, $131 million was just cut from K-12 education across the state as schools are working to open in the midst of this pandemic. What support and guidance is there for school districts to safely get kids back in school with less resources?
Parson: "Probably about $90 million of that we got kind of back-filled through some of the COVID CARES. We're using the CARES Act. Hopefully, according to what I think on the federal level, there will be some more financing coming that's going directly to the schools."
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