OLATHE, Kan. — The struggle ahead of the shut-down: Parents in Olathe and Kansas City, Kansas scramble to make childcare plans as local school districts plan a Tuesday-Wednesday hiatus.
The reasoning for the temporary closures are due to overwhelming staff and student absences largely attributed to illness, including COVID-19.
Last week, the Olathe Public Schools saw multiple records broken, but not the kind of records that you’d hope to set. They saw their highest number of staff absences ever on Friday.
During Thursday’s board of education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Brent Yeager predicted that the district would have 600 staff member absences by Friday. They actually ended up having more than 800 employees out, leading to this decision that puts a bit of a burden on parents.
“I always sit and think, man, the struggle must be tough to deal with situations like this because there are parents and a lot of people who are not in the same situation that can be as fortunate as to have that flexibility with them,” Issac Leite said. He is planning to watch his first grader while she is at home this week.
Yeager also said last week there was a 30% positivity rate among the COVID-19 tests administered by the district.
“Our hope is with this three day weekend, with Martin Luther King weekend that by putting an additional two days on, that will help us get ahead of it and we won’t be in this situation again,” Yeager said.
“But as you said, not a decision that any of us take lightly,” Yeager said.
“It really impacts our families. Especially our families with young children who have to figure something else out in terms of care for their kids,” Yeager said.
Leite said he hopes the decision is just a hiccup in the process of school returning to normal while managing the impact of COVID.
“I mean I think it comes as no surprise. And we always know that this risk can run especially in the times that we’re living in. But I still imagine it can still be tough, you know?” Leite said.
“You know, leaning on whoever we can lean on. And that’s why it’s really important to make yourself available to our neighbors or friends. Because we really have to come together in times like this to really try to get through it man,” Leite said.
The situation in Olathe is the same situation that is happening in the Kansas City, Kansas School District. Neither of these districts had school Monday for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The plan for both districts is to return to class on Thursday.