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KSBE rejects Gov. Kelly’s school reopening plan

The vote ended in a tie, 5 to 5.
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 9:35 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2020 at 12:17 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas State Board of Education met and voted no on Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order mandating that schools not reopen until after Labor Day, meaning school districts will be able to decide on when their schools open.

The vote ended in a tie, 5 to 5, meaning their was not a majority to pass the measure.

“The cases of COVID-19 in Kansas are at an all-time high and continue to rise. Our decisions must be informed by public health experts not politics. This vote puts our students, faculty, their families and our economy at risk,” said Governor Laura Kelly regarding the State Board of Education’s vote. “I will continue to work with our school districts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children and ask every school district to delay the start of school.”

Senate President Susan Wagle praised the decision.

“I appreciate our board members’ confidence in local district leaders and especially want to thank all Kansas parents and experts for their civic engagement on behalf of Kansas students. Our state is extremely diverse, and I will continue to advocate for local control rather than a one-size-fits-all mandate by one sole leader. The democratic process and engagement from many Kansans prevailed today, and local leaders and health experts will make decisions about school closures from here forward, exactly how it should have been all along,” said Wagle.

During the meeting, Will Lawrence, Gov. Kelly’s Chief of Staff, says the order would have helped to flatten the COVID-19 curve as well as give school districts more time to prepare for the challenges of teaching during an international health crisis.

Dr. Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment says 31% of 5,400 children in Florida have tested positive for COVID-19. He says if this were to translate to Kansas it would have a drastic effect on the state’s rate of positive cases, which have already been on the rise. He says due to the exponential rate of cases in the state he would not recommend any kind of mass gathering, especially if not able to socially distance properly.

Although the Board is not voting on the mask order signed by the Governor, Dr. Norman says that he has seen masks work first hand when deployed in the middle east. He says that the middle east respiratory syndrome, which did not peak for four years, was able to be controlled successfully with public health measures such as wearing masks.

“I feel very strongly, schools are not safe islands in an unsafe community,” says Dr. Norman.

According to Scott Gordon, General Counsel for the Kansas State Department of Education, the order says that non accredited schools, such as home school programs or early childhood development programs, are exempt from the order.

“The cases of COVID-19 in Kansas are at an all-time high and continue to rise,” says Governor Laura Kelly. “Our decisions must be informed by public health experts, not politics. This vote puts our students, faculty, their families and our economy at risk.”

Governor Kelly says she will continue to work with school districts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Kansas children and asks every district to delay the start of school.

Previous story:

KSBE meets to make decision on Gov. Kelly’s school reopening plan

The Kansas State Board of Education will meet to decide if they will approve or deny Governor Laura Kelly’s school reopening plan.

The Kansas State Board of Education says it will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 22, to either approve or deny Governor Laura Kelly’s reopening plan for schools which include pushing the start date back to after Labor Day.

You can watch live here or on the WIBW Facebook page.

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