Most Kansas City area schools will close until at least April 3 in line with a nationwide shutdown aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus.
Kenny Southwick, who heads a coalition of districts in the metro area, said schools would remain closed until Mayor Quinton Lucas lifts his state of emergency.
In a statement, Southwick said that the school superintendents worked with Lucas to reach that decision.
“Our superintendents appreciated the Mayor’s leadership and agreed with him that this was a difficult decision in light of the problems this will create for children and families in our community,” Southwick wrote, “but the districts acted together in order to save lives.”
The decision closes 15 districts: Kansas City, Missouri, Belton, Blue Springs, Center, Grandview, Hickman Mills, Independence, Kearney, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, North Kansas City, Park Hill, Platte County, Raytown and Smithville.
"We know that in addition to education, our schools provide vital support to our communities and that this closure will have a major impact on our families," North Kansas City Schools Superintendent Dan Clemens said in a statement. "Please know that we are doing all we possibly can to make decisions in the best interest of our students through this time."
The six Johnson County, Kansas, school districts – Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, Olathe, De Soto, Spring Hill and Gardner Edgerton – have also said that they will close until at least April 5.
In an abundance of caution, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment directed Johnson County districts, including the Olathe Public Schools, to keep schools closed through April 5: https://t.co/vwFwVsH2lj pic.twitter.com/h2JCjRK1uw
— Olathe Public Schools (@olatheschools) March 17, 2020
Charters and private schools in Kansas City, Missouri, will also close, per the Missouri Charter Public Schools Association.
Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.