Start dates for classes remain uncertain

John Richmeier

The Kansas State Board of Education has blocked a governor’s order that would have delayed the reopening of schools until after Labor Day.

But it remains uncertain when local schools will start classes.

On Monday, Gov. Laura Kelly signed an executive order that would have prevented schools from reopening between Aug. 10 and Sept. 8. However, a new law requires that such orders be affirmed by the state school board before they go into effect.

The 10-member Kansas State Board of Education became deadlocked Wednesday during a vote to affirm the governor’s order.

With a 5-5 tie, the motion did not pass and the order did not receive the needed approval from the board.

Leavenworth Superintendent Mike Roth previously announced he hoped to start the school year Aug. 17. But after Kelly issued her order, Roth said the first day of school for Leavenworth students would be Sept. 9.

Now that the governor’s order has been rejected, a decision has not yet been made regarding when the Leavenworth public schools will reopen.

Roth said Thursday in an email that possible start dates will be shared with members of the Leavenworth Board of Education on Monday.

Board members plan to have a special meeting Monday evening. Among the issues that will be discussed is a plan for the operation of the schools when they reopen.

Other local school boards also will have special meetings Monday.

Lansing Superintendent Dan Wessel announced the Lansing Board of Education will meet Monday to review preliminary plans for reopening buildings as well as a draft of a school calendar.

Wessel said he does not know if board members will take action Monday.

“I would really like to see a decision on the calendar at the very least,” he said.

He had previously suggested a reopening plan may not be approved until early August.

A message posted on the website for the Basehor-Linwood website indicates a preliminary reopening plan will be released by the end of this week. And it is anticipated members of the Basehor-Linwood Board of Education will approve the plan Monday during a special meeting.

An agenda for the meeting indicates Basehor-Linwood board members also will discuss a district calendar.

The governor ordered schools closed in March in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Students completed the 2019-2020 school through remote instruction.

Kelly signed a separate executive order Monday that requires students, teachers and others to wear masks in schools when they reopen.

The order also calls for social distancing, daily temperature checks and hand sanitizer in classrooms.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt believes county governments and school districts can exempt themselves from the order requiring masks be worn in schools.

During a meeting of the Leavenworth County Commission on Wednesday, Commissioner Mike Stieben asked about the authority the county has in regards to the order requiring masks in schools.

Senior County Counselor David Van Parys said he needed to review the matter.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR