With rising COVID-19 cases, some Spring Hill students may return to online learning

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SPRING HILL, Kan. — Rising COVID-19 rates in Johnson County could soon push one school district’s students back online. The county, showing a 75% spike in new illnesses in the past week.

A bright yellow warning now greets families visiting Spring Hill USD 230’s website.

Because of spiking COVID cases, the district is planning to push its middle and high school students back to online learning.

“One of the things that kind of always surprised us, with any district, it’s as if they feel like the members of their faculty and students are living in a bubble. I think they’re forgetting while the community is part of the school, it’s a smaller part of the larger community. And right now, we know in Johnson County, things are getting out of hand,” said Spring Hill parent, Shay Link.

Spring Hill parents helped push the school board to adapt its own gating criteria, to get kids in school this fall. Shay Link says there have been benefits to her kids being back int eh classroom. But if the schedules had accommodated, her middle schooler might’ve stuck with remote learning.

“While it is disruptive to go from virtual to hybrid to in person and back again, this is what the majority wanted (in-person learning). So I think we can’t complain about what’s happening. You just have to roll with it,” Link said.

Spring Hill had 37 kids and three staff test positive for COVID-19 in October. Right now, nearly 60 are quarantined.

Parent Nick Hunt still believes the school is doing all it can to limit the risk. Despite climbing cases, he believes kids have a lot more to lose if school goes fully remote again.

“The social-emotional health, there’s no chart of graph or gating criteria for that. You’ve got kids that normally hate to go to school, you have to drag them kicking and screaming, that are now the first ones out of bed and can’t wait to get to school to see their friends and teachers. So that’s a tell right there,” Hunt said.

Spring Hill initially said it would give families a two-week heads-up to adjust to learning mode changes. But Thursday afternoon, sent an email to district families, saying it could shift older students back to online learning as early as November 16. The school board meets again Monday, and case numbers will be reviewed again on November 11.

“They can take that into consideration and choose to amend gating criteria to allow kids to stay in school or can choose to, at this time, say listen. This is the decision we have to make and we’ll stick to it. Either way, I’ll support the district always,” Hunt said.

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