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Rural schools in KS forced to make changes due to local COVID-19 outbreaks

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 4:37 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A few weeks into the school year, several rural districts in Kansas have been forced to temporarily transition to online or remote learning due to local COVID-19 outbreaks with students and staff.

Students and staff at several districts in rural Kansas counties are dealing with the effects of being in the classroom during a pandemic, among which are cancelations or postponements to sports and activities.

“We had some employees that tested positive, one bus driver, a coach, a couple of teachers, and we also had some students,” said Abilene Schools Superintendent Greg Brown of one district where the local spread of COVID-19 has students learning remote and sports and activities postponed until October.

Ashland. in Clark County, Sublette, in Haskell County, Hugotn in Stevens County, Meade, in Meade County, and Colby, in Thomas County, are among smaller districts facing similar challenges with reported cases of COVID-19 impacting school.

“I believe we had 13 cases and about 50 quarantined,” said Sublette Schools Superintendent Rex Bruce. “I don’t have the correct number right now to give you, but it’s probably double that.”

For several districts, moves to online learning for at least a couple weeks come with challenges to keep every student connected, especially those who live in rural areas outside of town.

Help comes with new-technology purchases made possible with federal funding.

“We have partnered and worked with United Wireless out of Dodge City and have purchased routers and we’re in the process of getting those out to those families,” Bruce said.

Safeguarding against further spread of COVID-19 within their schools, the rural district leaders said everyone is still adjusting and they’re doing what they can to safely educate students.

“All we ask is that you wear your mask. You help us keep our kids safe, help keep the doors open and help keep our kids playing their sports,” Ashland Schools Superintendent Jamie Wetig said.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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