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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Asks Schools To Delay Reopening Buildings Until After Labor Day

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is asking districts, charters and private schools to delay opening building until after Labor Day as the coronavirus continues to spread.
City of Kansas City
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is asking districts, charters and private schools to delay opening building until after Labor Day as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas wants all schools, public and private, to delay opening for in-person instruction until after Labor Day.

“We have no intention, if we can avoid it, to close all schools in Kansas City, Missouri, as we saw last spring,” Lucas said at a news conference Tuesday morning. “However, we are always measuring new infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”

Lucas’ request comes a day after Kansas City Public Schools announced the district was rethinking plans to bring most students back August 24. Superintendent Mark Bedell said Monday he was acting on the advice of health officials.

Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department, said that delaying school until after Labor Day will give health officials a better sense of how the outbreak is going.

“Back in the spring, my concern was the benefits of education were outweighing the risk of the disease spreading in kids in schools,” said Archer, who initially did not support closing schools. “That overall stay-at-home closure made a huge difference in our first wave. Unfortunately, we still had 16 deaths, but as you can see in our second wave, we are now at almost twice that.”

This time, there’s no mandate that school buildings close. Lucas said he’ll leave those decisions to school boards, but he’s hoping for some consensus across the city. There are 14 school districts with buildings in Kansas City, as well as 20 charters and many private schools.

Lucas added that there needs to be some kind of regional consensus on how to slow the spread of coronavirus in the Kansas City area. He said he supports Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order delaying the first day of school until Tuesday, September 8.

The Kansas State Board of Education still needs to agree to the delay.

“What I would say is this is largely based on the best medical information and advice we have now,” Lucas said. “This is consistent with advice I’ve received from Dr. Archer and other health directors in our region.”

Lucas called on counties to help schools buy the cleaning supplies and PPE that will be necessary for a safe return to return to school, praising Clay County for stepping up to help districts equip classrooms.

He also said that large, youth sports tournaments bringing together hundreds of competitors have spread the coronavirus in other communities, including St. Louis, and asked organizers to hold off until after schools have reopened.

Copyright 2020 KCUR 89.3

Elle covers education for KCUR. The best part of her job is talking to students. Before coming to KCUR in 2014, Elle covered Indiana education policy for NPR’s StateImpact project. Her work covering Indiana’s exit from the Common Core was nationally recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award. Her work at KCUR has been recognized by the Missouri Broadcasters Association and the Kansas City Press Club. She is a graduate of the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism. Elle regularly tweets photos of her dog, Kingsley. There is a wounded Dr. Ian Malcolm bobblehead on her desk.