Board discusses reopening schools full time, takes no vote

Staff Writer
Wellington Daily News

During its special Thursday meeting, the USD 353 Board of Education discussed whether to maintain its hybrid school schedule or go back to full-time school, but delayed taking any action until its Sept. 28 meeting.

The meeting took place in the Wellington High School auditorium and lasted nearly two hours. Audience members, mostly parents, addressed the board about their feelings on the issue.

“These kids need to be back in school full-time,” a man said. “There’s a 99% survival rate of this disease, this pandemic, whatever you want to say it is. Put yourself in my shoes. You’re making decisions for people that work an 8 or 10 or 12 hour day. They come home and have to play teacher for four or five hours...Please think about the kids. Think about their lives. Please take into consideration that your decision is influencing a lot of lives.”

A woman read a letter from Wellington High School student, Hunter Lough, who couldn’t be at the meeting.

“Re-opening with a hybrid plan was a step in the right direction, but we’re far from finished,” the letter read. “Completely opening school again is like falling down the stairs.”

Lough’s letter stressed that it would take only one case of COVID-19 to cancel all extracurricular activities.

“I would love to go to school full-time,” the letter read. “I would also love to not wear masks. The only way we are going to get there is doing what we’re doing. Our masks and distancing are working.”

A woman in the audience said the American Academy of Pediatrics has said children need to be back in school and have voiced their concern with emotional outcomes, the educational outcomes, behavioral outcomes and possible abuse associated with children being at home more.

She also said older adults have more severe symptoms than children do.

“I support whatever decision you make but I would like to see the schools open full time,” she said.

A woman who said she has two children attending Eisenhower Elementary, said, “If the sumner County Health department or our own local physicians say it’s safe to go back, my kids will be there with a smile on their faces, but until then we need to pay heed the advice of those who know more about virus and community health than any of the rest of us.”

Board members discussed the issue, but decided not to take action at that time. There was no vote.