KS Education Commissioner: Prepare for safety, expect outbreaks

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 10:15 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The state’s education commissioner says outbreaks are inevitable as classes resume amid COVID-19, but schools can take steps to bring students back safely.

Dr. Randy Watson spoke with 13 NEWS Eye on NE Kansas while visiting schools in western Kansas this week, as their classes got underway.

“I say everywhere I go there’s going to be outbreaks in schools,” he said. “Now, in many cases that may be one or two people, but because of one or two people that may make several people quarantine. If you’re in a small community, you may only have one teacher per grade level. (If) that teacher has to be quarantined or comes down with the virus, it puts a great strain on the system to deliver education, and so what we tell parents and educators is that until we have a vaccine we are going to be in the cycle of having small outbreaks at school, and then having to pivot with classes and teachers all through the next year - and that is what will make this fall extremely difficult.”

Watson said the Dept. of Education continues to guide districts on questions surrounding masking, social distancing, and remote learning. He says districts he’s visited are excited to be back.

“I think we can be in school in many places but we have to be safe,” Watson said. “You need to work at the disease in your community and make those decisions about safety, about trying our best to get students back and staff back in a safe environment.”

Listen to the full interview above.

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