Local school districts caution parents of possible temporary closures

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — This week, school districts in Bonner Springs, Eudora and De Soto all announced plans to close Friday due to overwhelming staff and student absences due to illnesses.

Now closures could soon be affecting more schools in the Kansas City metro.

On Friday morning, Kansas City, Kansas Public School reported that students may be picked up from their bus stops later than normal because of a shortage of bus drivers.

Also on Friday, about 17% of staff members were absent from the district. While the reason for the absences are unspecified, COVID-19 is seen is a main factor in the high numbers.

The situation has led administrators to warn parents about the potential for closures.

The same discussion was also happening Thursday night during Olathe Public Schools meeting of its board of education.

Public comment at once again focused on disgust toward masking policies. But the comments did not match the most up-to-date conversations before the board, trying to keep the district open in the face of overwhelming staff absences.

“On a daily basis we are averaging over 500 absences by a staff members. That’s our certified and classified staff members,” Dr. Brent Yeager, superintendent of Olathe Public Schools, said.

“For parents that are tuning in, it may be worthy to start thinking about a ‘plan b’ just in case we were having to cancel school one day,” Yeager said.

“We’re within 65 people probably of us not having school because of staffing,” Yeager said.

In KCK, the school district is making a similar warning, telling parents to start thinking about their childcare plans.

“Because many of our parents are working and they’re planning their daily schedules and their routines. So we just want them too keep that in mind,” Edwin Birch, a KCKPS spokesperson, said.

“We’re not there yet,” Birch said.

“We have 717 staff out as of today. So we’re looking at about 17% of our staff who are out,” Birch said.

In KCKPS there are about 21,000 students. 2,000 of them were also absent on Friday. That’s about 8.9% of the student body.

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