Shawnee Mission parents press school board again to bring older student back to classrooms

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Shawnee Mission School District families are fighting for a chance for all students to return to in-person learning. 

Dozens of parents rallied ahead of Tuesday night’s board meeting before heading inside to make their case.

Jack Mudgett has been trying to listen to history lessons online. The Shawnee Mission Northwest junior said success in virtual school is a challenge.

“It’s a lot harder to pay attention,” Mudgett said. “I feel like at school I can just focus on what they’re teaching and that’s where I pay all my attention to, but at home, I don’t.”

His younger brother, a freshman, and older sister, a senior, were all looking forward to being at the same school one last time. But this fall, SMSD is keeping all students learning online, at least for now.

“It’s kind of a bit ridiculous to not go back and feel like you should have choice,” Mudgett said.

His mom Kristin said it’s hard to watch her kids struggle and miss the important social connections.

“I’ve seen anxiety attacks. I’ve seen breakdowns. There’s tears. There’s headaches,” Kristin Mudgett said.

In remote learning classes, there’s growing buzz about whether going back might be possible.  

Shawnee Mission is already committed to bring back grades K-2 through Oct. 5, with a slow return for the remaining elementary students. But there’s no word yet on when older kids could go back.  

The entire Mudgett family survived COVID-19, and they believe the virus is here to stay, so schools should adapt and deal with cases as they arise.

“They’re making it about fear. It’s here. We’ve just got to live with it,” Kristin Mudgett said. “We’ve got to learn how to react to it if there is an outbreak.”

The Shawnee Mission school board meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Stay with FOX4 for continuing coverage on fox4kc.com and on FOX4 News at 9 and 10 p.m.

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