Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced Tuesday that all public schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year and classes will be held remotely.
While at least 70 percent of all public schools have shut their doors in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Kansas is the first to announce such a sweeping response. However, many states have floated the possibility of schools remaining closed for the rest of the academic year. Many universities have already announced plans to hold classes remotely for the rest of the spring semester.
“I am ordering all K-12 to close and cease in-person instruction for the duration of the 2019-2020 semester,” Kelly said, according to Fox 4.
On Sunday, Kansas officials announced that schools in the state should close for one week, according to the governor.
“The steps we’re announcing today will create the space we need at the state level… so that we can get ahead of this threat and limit its long term impact,” said Kelly.
As of Tuesday, the state had 17 confirmed cases and one death. The U.S. had 5,702 confirmed cases and 94 deaths.
Kelly said the state is working to determine how a continuous remote learning environment will work.
Some people worried about the effectiveness of online learning for school children. “Closing classrooms and moving to this continuous learning plan… can in no way replicate the great learning that goes on in our world-class schools,” Dr. Randy Watson, commissioner for the Kansas State Department of Education, said. However, resources would be provided to both public and private schools for online learning.
The announcement came as the Kansas House approved a bill to give jobless workers an additional 10 weeks of unemployment benefits.