Kansas Education Commissioner Hopeful for Student Return

Kansas’ education commissioner is cautiously optimistic that the state’s 500,000 public school students will be back in their classrooms when the fall semester begins.

Commissioner Randy Watson concedes it’s difficult to predict the future as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced schools to go to mostly online learning since mid-March.

“We’re about 90 days now from the opening of school and I think there’s still much to learn about it,” Watson said, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. “We’re cautiously optimistic that we can be back in school face-to-face in August.”

Governor Laura Kelly became the nation’s first governor to order closure of school buildings on March 17.

The Kansas Department of Education intends to present a reopening guide to school districts by July 10, Watson said.

Watson said that restart scenarios should take into account a standard reopening, as well as an alternative that would include blending in-person and online teaching.

The contingency could be needed if there is resurgence of COVID-19.

Different infection-control actions may be necessary in different parts of the state, depending on infection clusters, he said.