WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Under state law, school districts cannot go fully remote. But if a student needs to learn online, they can only do so for 40 hours. It is why many district leaders have opted to simply shut down schools.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle tell KSN there are no discussions to reverse the remote learning limitations, and neither side seems to want that policy to change.
“I’m almost glad that we passed this because now we can’t blame them for being virtual, even though they don’t have the choice. If they did, they would be blamed,” Kansas Senate Minority Whip Sen. Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City, explained.
If a school district believes it needs to go remote for more than 40 hours to help battle COVID-19, it would have to get a waiver from the Kansas State Department of Education.
Sen. Pettey expects schools to extend into the summer months.
“I think for our school districts, it’s the best choice.”
Rep. Steve Huebert from Valley Center and the House Education Committee Chairman said keeping students in schools is of utmost importance.
“The learning loss on our kids is greater than we imagined. It’s not just the academic impact; It’s the social, emotional, mental scars.”
KSDE’s Deputy Commissioner, Craig Neuenswander, believes loosening regulations for substitutes could help keep schools open.
“I do believe we will more substitutes available relatively quickly. Our agency is allowing people to take a day each week to substitute if they would like to do that,” Neuenswander explained.
However, Neuenswander said school districts must be in session for 1,116 hours every year. If they can’t reach that number, they would be forced to extend the school year.