Gov. Kelly visits Wichita school to discuss teacher vaccinations, remote learning deficits

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 3:37 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Governor Laura Kelly Thursday visited Northeast Magnet High School, USD 259, to highlight that all Kansas K-12 teachers and school staff who want one will receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine over the next week.

“Teachers and parents have stepped up under unimaginable circumstances,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Now it’s our job to get teachers vaccinated quickly to get our kids back in the classroom, safely.”

In addition, Kelly led a roundtable with teachers and administrative staff to discuss ways to best get kids back in school quickly and safely. Overall, there is a major concern that the majority of students fell behind during remote learning. And, the repercussions are far from over, now that most students are back in the classroom. The Kansas Department of Education found more kids fell behind academically over the last year.

“Each kid is going to have their own individual set of deficits and they’re going to need an individualized approach. I am optimistic we will get enough funding from the federal government to do the enhanced learning in a way it will really make a difference,” said Wichita School Board President Stan Reeser.

The state education department is looking at local assessments from school districts across the state to gauge the academic loss. The department also met with all superintendents to talk about ideas to make up for the loss. Early data shows students fell behind in English, language arts and math. The data also shows more academic loss in elementary and minority students.

Two ideas the Wichita school district is considering to make up for the learning deficit are to bring students back earlier for the next school year or to hold a three-week STEM academy over the summer.

“We need to evaluate where we are. That evaluation includes academically, mentally, and socially. We are also including a very robust summer program so we can do that type of evaluation and get ready for this post COVID environment that hopefully, we will have in the fall,” Reeser said.

Over the next week, Kansas will have completed prime vaccinations for every K-12 educator and staff member who wanted one. This achievement puts Kansas on track to have teachers fully vaccinated by the week of March 22, 2021.

Wichita Public Schools said it will release more information about its summer school program on Monday.

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