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Kansas School Districts Close Due to COVID-19 Cases

Kansas School Districts Close Due to COVID-19 Cases

The findings of the report ultimately explain why it is important for school staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. Multiple school districts in the Kansas City area are canceling classes on Friday due to rising COVID-19 numbers, other illnesses and not enough replacement teachers.

Eudora and De Soto’s school districts in Leavenworth County have joined USD 204 Bonner Springs/Edwardsville Thursday in her decision to put the school year on hiatus until next week.

The Wellsville, Kansas School District in Franklin County has also canceled classes for Friday due to a significant increase in COVID-19 in the past week, which has had a major impact on staff and available substitutes.

The Wellsville School District said student cases are also on the rise, with active cases currently above 3%. Until January 28, masks are mandatory for all students, employees and visitors.

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools announced Thursday that due to a staff shortage, buses on Friday will be between 15 and 20 minutes late. The school district is also asking families to prepare now for COVID-19-related school closures, including childcare options, if needed.

The De Soto . School District said it was almost 100 . has had teaching positions unfilled this week, with school and district staff trying to fill the gaps.

“Almost 20 percent of the class teachers will not be available before Friday 14 January. This negatively impacts our daily instruction for students,” the district said in a message sent to students and parents on Thursday. “This challenge does not account for absences among our school support staff.”

This week, staff in the Bonner Springs/Edwardsville School District had a 16% absenteeism rate. These are the stats that led to the decision of administrators now hoping for a “health reset.”

What that looks like is that the schools are closed on Thursday and will also be closed on Friday. Then there is the weekend and Monday was already a holiday planned for Martin Luther King Jr. day.

That means there are five days that the district hopes will put turnout back on a more normal path.

Students in Bonner Springs said they learned of the closure from teachers late Wednesday.

“We all thought she was kidding us. We were like ‘really?’ Like we didn’t think she was serious,” said Lexi Lister, a senior at Bonner Springs High School.

“Some people were not happy. We didn’t want it to happen. And then other people said, “Oh, I hope we never have to come back.” And I don’t want that to happen,” Lister said.

“There was a day in one of my choir classes where there are usually about 22. There were eight people that day,” Lister said.

Chief Inspector Dan Brungardt said Monday’s COVID-19 situation was bad enough, more than 4% of absences, that it prompted everyone to re-mask in high school.

The district made this decision to suspend learning, taking advantage of snow day allocation, Brungardt said.

“We know that if we don’t have a school, there will be younger children with parents who have to find a place for them. It’s not an easy decision, but the decision was based on the fact that we had spread the flu — a lot of things are happening right now,” Brungardt said.

“And we’ve reached a point where it’s better to quit, get everyone healthy, and go back to school,” Brungardt said.

“It’s the people who come to cook in the morning and our bus drivers and our teachers keep us open,” Brungardt said.

Lister said the situation reminds her of earlier in her high school career, which was severely disrupted.

“We haven’t come back from the second year of spring break. And this was the first year that we are full-time again. So I want to finish my senior year. I want to have that experience,” Lister said.

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