Kansas School Board blocks executive order, leaves school opening decision up to districts 

Lawrence USD 497 to pursue later start


Courtsey of GR Gordon-Ross

LHS’s campus has been largely empty of students since spring break when this photo was taken. The school board is to take up a plan next week to delay the start of the year.

By Nadia Sanburn, Online Co-Editor in Chief

The Kansas State Board of Education voted today to block Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order to delay the start of the school year until Sept. 9 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

The vote tied 5-5, and since it did not receive majority support, was blocked. Both state board members who represent Lawrence, Ann Mah and Janet Waugh, voted in favor of the executive order. 

Gov. Kelly said the purpose of the order was to give districts extra time to make sure conditions were safe for both students and staff. She expressed her disappointment on the board’s vote in a statement released after the meeting. 

“The cases of COVID-19 in Kansas are at an all-time high and continue to rise,” Kelly said. “Our decisions must be informed by public health experts, not politics. This vote puts our students, faculty, their families and our economy at risk.”

The decision of when to begin the school year in this unprecedented time will be left up to local districts themselves, and USD 497’s administration has already made a statement saying they plan to follow Gov. Kelly’s guidance. 

“There is no higher priority for us than the health and well-being of our staff, scholars, and school families,” Anthony Lewis said on Twitter. “While the Governor’s Executive Order was not approved, we are preparing a proposal to begin the school year after Labor Day for the July 27 school board meeting.” 

Students, families, and staff are encouraged to share their thoughts on the topic of reopening schools with USD497 board members. By emailing [email protected], you can contact all board members at once.