Lee’s Summit quickly reverses course, votes to send youngest kids to virtual learning

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — It was whiplash for some parents in the Lee’s Summit School District on Thursday night.

The district’s school board voted 6-1 Thursday in favor of sending Pre-K through 3rd graders back to virtual learning. The decision came just two days after it voted to keep the same students in in-person learning.

On Tuesday, the district already voted to send 4th-12th grade back to virtual learning, but stopped short of going further, opting to keep its youngest students in their classrooms in a 5-2 vote.

But now, starting Monday, Nov. 23, all grade levels in Lee’s Summit will transition to remote learning. Students will remain in this learning mode until January.

Many parents at the meeting told FOX4 they’ll now have to scramble to find child care, and for some of the district’s youngest students, this will be the first time families who opted for in-person learning move to virtual learning since Lee’s Summit started the school year with Pre-K through 3rd in classrooms.

Betsy Cochran, mom of a kindergartner, said if virtual learning has to happen, it has to happen. She just doesn’t like the confusion.

“It just feels very messy,” she said.

The back-and-forth has left some families frustrated.

“On Tuesday, we all assumed that we were going to be going virtual,” she said of the previous meeting. “And then at the end, there was kind of this Hail Mary pass thrown, and we were like, ‘Oh well great, we’re going to be in-person.'”

Now that’s no longer the case.

Board members said in the past two days, they’ve seen a dramatic rise in cases and quarantines, and that’s why they decided to revisit the subject.

Board member Julie Hedrick, who voted Tuesday to keep young kids in class, would be the only dissenting vote on Thursday night. The rest of the board voted in favor during a meeting that held a solemn tone.

“This afternoon I learned one of our teachers lost a spouse to COVID-19. We offer our deepest condolences as they plan a funeral on the eve of the holiday season,” board member Megan Marshall said.

The board decided that the Pre-K through 3rd graders would be in virtual learning mode until Jan. 11. A motion to extend virtual learning for the age group through Jan. 25 failed. The board will revisit the situation on Jan. 4.

Cochran said her family will be able to handle the abrupt change.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate in that regard. It’s not the same for everyone though,” she said.

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