Republican State Board of Education candidates on the issues: Reopening Kansas schools during the COVID-19 pandemic

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of this summer’s primary elections. Based on the input we received, we developed three-item questionnaire for Republican candidates running for the Kansas State Board of Education.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item one:

The State Board of Education will play a key role in determining when and how Kansas schools reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s your view on how to balance efforts to stem the spread of the virus with the need for children to be back in their school buildings?

David Krug

As a post-secondary public educator, I recently transitioned my classrooms from face-to-face to a strictly online environment. I am proud of my colleagues and their efforts and flexibility during this unprecedented situation. We have learned a lot, part of which was a reminder that public education is important not only for the delivery of content but also for the socialization skills learned when students are present together in a learning environment. Every Kansan wants students to return to their physical classrooms. It’s not about not wanting to go back to the classroom. Students want to return, and teachers as well. I miss interacting on campus with my students and look forward to life returning to normal.

That being said, returning must be well-planned and evidence-based. The KSBOE and public education leaders have taken the appropriate steps thus far, and I am confident this will continue. They are collecting input from infectious disease experts, the Health Department, administrators, staff, and teachers, as well as from employers and parents. I should mention that a number of these experts worked in a non-compensated manner for Kansas Students. We all have the same goal, but caution should be exercised. If a student is sick, they infect others, and their parents, and others in the school. If I, or a number of other teachers get sick, students won’t have teachers or substitutes and we are back to square one with empty classrooms. I have a great deal of confidence in Dr. Lee Norman (the Kansas Secretary of Health & Environment) and know he will be integrally involved in how the Board and our schools move forward.

Benjamin Hodge

Did not respond.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item two:

Do you believe Kansas’s K-12 public school system is over-funded or under-funded? Why?