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Wichita Public Schools Reverses Decision, Will Allow Fall Sports This Year

Stephan Bisaha
Wichita Public Schools Superintendent Alicia Thompson at a board meeting in 2019.

Students at Wichita Public Schools will be able to participate in extracurricular activities after all this fall.

The school board voted 6-1 on Tuesday to allow fall sports and other activities to go forward, a reversal of an earlier decision to cancel both for the first nine weeks of the school year because of the coronavirus.

Students who sign up for moderate and high-risk activities — including dance, football and soccer — will have to attend classes virtually for the season and two weeks after the season ends.

Right now, all Wichita middle school and high school students will be taught remotely for the first nine weeks because of the pandemic. Classes begin next week. 

Spectators will not be allowed at games, though college recruiters will be welcome.

Board president Sheril Logan called the plan a good compromise.

"I don't think any of us are 100% happy," Logan said. "But you know what? I think it's a good plan to get our kids back into those important activities and sports."

Board member Ernestine Krehbiel was the lone vote against the plan. She said she's still uncomfortable bringing sports back.

"Families and staff members and teachers and coaches and all of those are also at risk for being involved with this," Krehbiel said.

Superintendent Alicia Thompson made the recommendation to the board after consulting with her COVID-19 advisory committee on Monday.

The committee told Thompson in a closed meeting that while Sedgwick County has seen improved coronavirus numbers in recent weeks, the district should remain in its second-highest restriction level. That requires all middle and high school students to learn remotely for the first nine weeks of school.

Stephan Bisaha reports on education and young adult life for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @stevebisaha.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.