SPRING HILL, Kan. — Another Johnson County, Kansas school district will send all students who chose in-person learning back to classrooms. But the move is not without controversy.
Olivia Fraley’s a seventh grader at Spring Hill Middle School. She’s taking band, and all her classes right now, online.
“When we got sent back into remote, we just saw such a change in her demeanor and her just spirit was so down,” said parent Anna Fraley.
Anna Fraley was so concerned about the unwelcome changes in her 12-year-old, she and dozens of other parents rallied the school board Monday night.
The board voted 5-2 to toss standards used to decide if kids attend in-person or online out the window.
“We see that these kids are safe. We see the school is not a source of a hotspot or community spread and so instead of we have line in sand drawn, sometimes that line has to be erased and we have to find a new line,” Anna Fraley said.
COVID-19 safety measures, including masks, will stay. The district worked with teachers and staff to create expectations, outlined here, to keep everyone safe.
COVID-19 case and quarantine counts, along with substitute availability will be key in keeping schools open.
“You have to have so many kids in the building to actually have school. You also have to enough teachers to provide a quality education so that’s something we’re going to be watching very closely,” said Wayne Burke, Spring Hill Schools superintendent.
This year, Spring Hill moved away from county and state health school guidance, creating its own criteria.
Some parents are concerned tossing the board’s own rules out now is dangerous and will have lasting consequences.
“There’s no safety net for the teachers. I think this board basically said last night to teachers that we don’t care about you or your concerns and it’s really sad,” said parent Shay Hill.
Some school staff have shared they’re nervous about bringing hundreds of kids back to school, but the Spring Hill Teacher’s Association declined comment.
The district feels it’s doing all it can and says this return can be successful when students come back Feb. 1, and has also indicated both the county and state health department can step in at any time and close classrooms or buildings if there is a COVID-19 outbreak.