Why the Schools are Delayed

Governor Laura Kelly announced yesterday that she will publish an Executive Order next Monday delaying the start of public K-12 schools in Kansas until after Labor Day. You can watch her announcement here (it starts at 7 mins and 30 seconds), or read the press release here.

In less than 24 hours since then, the reactions have been fast and furious from Kansans, both of the legislative class and the rest of us. Mainstream knows all too well the deep feelings Kansans have for their children and the importance of public education. We also understand the real impact schools have on every aspect of the lives of children and parents. Our nation provides woeful access to affordable child care for working parents, and public schools have taken up that slack. Keeping schools closed hurts families where parents need to work. Opening schools with record high infection rates hurts families, children, and teachers. Online school hurts children unable to access it, and those who learn poorly in online-only situations.

There is no good answer.

How then do we keep children, families, and teachers safe, while still giving every Kansas child the best possible educational opportunities?

We wear masks every time we go out in public, that's how. What does that have to do with schools? Wearing masks is the single easiest and most effective way to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 infections. Reducing COVID-19 infections is the only way to open schools safely.

How did we get here? In order to impress upon Kansans the importance of wearing masks, avoiding mass public events, and hand washing, it's important to really understand how we got to this point.

When COVID-19 infections began to appear in Kansas in early March, our state government did the most prudent thing. Gov. Kelly closed schools, and a stay at home order was enacted. By the end of April, infections had peaked, and by the middle of May, the state was in the midst of a phased re-opening plan.

But on May 27th, the Kansas Legislature, with Legislative Leadership fully in command, forced Gov. Kelly to change the stay at home order from a mandate, enforceable by law, to a guidance, one that individual counties could countermand as they saw fit.

From that point, right before the Memorial Day weekend, cases in Kansas began to rise again as county after county refused to enforce the state's guidance.

Today, Kansas stands at a higher peak than ever, and every ounce of effort, pain, and sacrifice undertaken by Kansans in March and April has been wasted by elected leaders who see political gains as more important than public health.

Let us be clear as day here.

Kansas was on track for a successful phased recovery from the coronavirus that would have had businesses open, the economy on the upswing, and schools prepared for kids to return to learning. Then political leaders stepped in, and now Kansans have died needlessly, businesses have continued to fail, and the promise of a generation of schoolchildren is caught in the middle.

There is a direct relation between the incidence of COVID-19 infections in Kansas and the decision by Legislative Leadership to strip the Governor's power to mandate public safety measures. And there is a direct relation between the incidence of the disease and the safety of opening schools, businesses, and churches.

Here is a chart (we annotated it because of poor image resolution) from yesterday's presentation. Dr. Lee Norman of KDHE begins talking about it at 26 minus and 43 seconds in the video.

Screen shot of a chart from Gov comments

Draw your own conclusions, please. But let us stop blaming the Governor for listening to public health officials and making the difficult but correct choices to keep Kansans safe.

Instead, remember that every member of the Kansas Legislature is up for election this year, starting in the Kansas Primary Election on August 4th.

And... Wear. A. Mask.

This shouldn't be that difficult.

As always, we are very interested to hear your comments or reactions to everything we do. Reply to this email, or use our contact form to get in touch.

Thank you,

Danny Novo
Communications Director

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