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In a press conference Sunday evening, March 15, Gov. Laura Kelly recommended all schools in Kansas close the week of March 16-22 as a precaution against spreading the coronavirus. The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) joined her in making the recommendation.

Paola, Osawatomie and Louisburg schools are already out of school the week of March 16-20 for spring break.

On Monday, March 16, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson convened a Continuous Learning Task Force to consider options regarding the COVID-19 epidemic. This 25-member task force will develop a plan by the end of the day, Wednesday, March 18, that addresses the following: 1) How schools will move education online so students can progress toward the end of the semester; 2) How schools will assist students who don’t have access to online tools finish out the semester, especially those who are set to graduate in May; 3) How schools will provide for at-risk students and those who have Individual Education Plans (IEPs); 4) How schools will assist in providing meals for students who need them; 5) What role schools can play in assisting with child care for essential local and state personnel that live in their counties; 6) How schools will assist in efforts to keep children from congregating in community spaces and keep them quarantined in their own homes. Once finalized and approved, this plan will be communicated with all Kansas schools.

Franklin County’s first coronavirus (COVID-19) case was reported Saturday, March 14, prompting the county health officer to order that all Franklin County school districts suspend classroom and extracurricular activities for two weeks.

Schools can remain open during the suspension, and staff can report to school as needed, according to a Franklin County news release.

Public health and school officials plan to reevaluate the situation at the end of the two-week period.

The Franklin County Board of County Commissioners, under the recommendation of the emergency manager, also declared a State of Local Disaster after the presumptive positive case was reported Saturday in the county. Officials said all precautions have been taken, and anyone who is believed to have come into close contact with the individual has been quarantined.

It was one of two more positive cases of COVID-19 reported Saturday in Kansas. The other was a Johnson County woman, which at the time brought the total number of cases in Kansas to eight. That number now stands at 13, as of Tuesday morning. Ten of those cases are located in Johnson County.

The Miami County Health Department is still reporting that there are zero cases of COVID-19 in Miami County.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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