The Wichita school board voted in a special meeting Friday to stay with a plan that will have middle school and high school students going to a mix of in-person and remote classes, starting in November.

The start date for the “blended” classes was moved back from November 9th to November 12th.  Elementary school students will stay with in-person classes for the second nine weeks of the school year.

The board held the special meeting to talk about recent increases in COVID-19 activity in the community.  Sedgwick County Health Department director Adrienne Byrne told the board that the percentage of positive cases in the county is just above 14 percent, but the percentage in schools has been below that.    She said there is no data to confirm that the recent increase in cases was caused by schools being open.

United Teachers of Wichita president Kimberly Howard urged the board to look at COVID-19 data and follow gating criteria set by the state.   Howard said the October 20th decision to go with the blended plan left teachers with more questions than answers.    She said “We want our students back in school when it is safe to do so,” but she said teachers are tired of the work load and unrealistic expectations that have been placed on them.

The board voted 4-3 to stay with the current plan to rotate middle school and high school students between in-person and remote classes during the week.  The board has a regular meeting scheduled for November 9th and there will be more talks to determine if changes are needed.