By Dylan Yoder
Special to the Rural Messenger
Kansas has officially become the first state to declare all public (in-person) schools to be suspended for the remainder of the school year. As we all know the Coronavirus has been infiltrating the United States for a while now, making it harder and harder to hold public gatherings of any kind, one of these is a public school. Governor Laura Kelly on the 17th announced that K-12 schools would be closed for the remainder of the year in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. This announcement came after the Governor banned meetings of more than 50 people throughout the state. Stifling K-12 in-person schooling may possibly slow the spread of the virus in Kansas, but what does this decision mean for students? Will they simply have a 5-month summer vacation? The short answer to this question is probably not.
Governor Kelly specifically closed all in-person classes of public schools, that doesn’t necessarily mean that school is out for the remainder of the year though. Simply that the typical format of classes will change to more of an online presence. The hope is to move all K-12 students in Kansas to the online classrooms where learning will pick up again, through the internet. All person to person contact that happens within K-12 school districts will be suspended. This means that all plans for school extracurriculars, sports, dances, and public graduation will most likely be canceled or have already been canceled. As a byproduct of this, many teenagers across the state lose some of the best parts of high school, seniors lose spring sports, activities, and any clubs they may have been in all without getting to say goodbye. The best parts of high school are spent with friends, but COVID-19 has made that much harder for students. Online schooling will provide for the learning, but not for the socializing.
Another issue raised by the public was, what if the student has no way of connecting to the internet to complete schoolwork? Governor Kelly answered by stating that the individual school districts will decide on how to proceed, whether its by mail or by other means. As Kansas is a mostly rural state, it can be concluded that there are a number of students that will not have means of participating in online schooling. Classes for these students may prove to be harder due to the fact that they cannot resort to the internet for help in classwork. However, in-person classes are allowed to commence so long as they are in groups of no more than 10 people. This regulation will benefit extreme rural communities but for larger schools, it will most likely take place online. Students who attend larger schools and yet have no internet access may be able to attend in-person classes so long as they can regulate the number of people within each building/room.
Overall, the entire ordeal of COVID-19 and the cancellation of school was not necessarily a dream come true for K- 12 students. In fact, it’s far from it. Teenagers in high school will continue to trudge through schoolwork while also losing some of the best parts of their high school years. As stated before, the senior class of 2020 gets the short end of the stick. Essentially, in the final stretch of their high school run, the track has vanished, and their prospects for their final goodbye are gone. This may not sound like much, but graduation, and the events leading up to it, are important milestones in a person’s life. For them to lose that, is both unfortunate, and a true example of the unfairness of life.