COVID Board Meeting

A recap of some of the events this school year regarding COVID, and how some teachers feel about them


Many people are being forced to choose between medical safety and proper education.

In a pandemic, as we’ve learned, things can rapidly change. Whether it be the safety procedures, the positive cases, the safety of your community, or even our understanding of the disease itself, most Americans have experienced a surprise in their lives due to the pandemic. West students are no different.

It all began last year when school unexpectedly canceled for all of the fourth quarter after spring break. After a delayed start date, this year school began on Sept. 8 with virtual learning. While it was challenging for many, it was in place for just over a month as hybrid students entered the school on Oct. 19. Before that, they created an in-depth, 49-page plan for returning to in-person learning, and the precautions it would take to remain in person.

A short while after, all students returned to virtual on Nov. 30, after many visited families during Thanksgiving break, as rising cases only make it harder to educate students. 

Unmitigated community spread is having an impact on our schools,” said the Olathe School District in their Nov. 18 letter to parents and students. “It is becoming more challenging to operate our buildings.”

Throughout this letter, the district commended students and teachers for their precautions and urged them to remain safe when at home.

Students’ cases and quarantines are steadily rising as time passes.

“Please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home when you are sick, keep your children home when they are sick and practice social distancing,” said the letter. “We need a community effort to keep our schools in session, our students and staff safe and learning together.”


The incident rate rises, even getting to red in the district’s gating criteria on Nov. 6.

Reactions to this announcement vary. Some believe that going virtual was best for students’ safety. Others believe that students staying in school would help their mental health.   

There are an infinite amount of opinions on the matter, especially with the board convening constantly to determine the future of Olathe students. The two basic sides of this argument are represented here, in those who support in-person learning, and those who don’t. 

Remote learning is not a new concept for students and teachers. For some, it’s been a positive step towards ending the pandemic. Teachers, students, and parents were glad the district was taking the necessary steps to stop COVID-19 from spreading. In addition, remote was a new opportunity to try a different style of learning and teaching.

When Olathe declared that school would go back in session in October, with a hybrid format, there were many concerns for the safety of students and staff but some but others were less concerned and less cautious. Many precautions were taken in school, but what about out of school?    

“Having everyone go back to school provides a false sense of security,” Olathe West science teacher, Drew Keiter said. “We’ve seen a lot of people let their guard down.”

This announcement of Olathe moving back to remote learning was expected when it was declared that Kansas was one of the states with the highest number of cases. Some teachers were pleased with the board’s decision to return to remote because they believe that going remote will improve the number of COVID cases.

“Whether it’s spreading in schools or not, it’s pretty clear that the spike occurred when we returned to hybrid learning,” Olathe West theater teacher, Alisha Morris said. 

Cases began rising in late October resulting in Olathe schools deciding to return to remote learning.

Part of the Olathe West community were glad when we returned to remote learning. For some classes, the in-person COVID protocols were restricting for the classroom environment. 

“When we moved to hybrid, there were many more restrictions like the kids need to sit facing forward, they need social distance,” Morris said. “I was able to more effectively do group work on remote learning with the breakout feature.”

Remote learning has allowed for teachers to discover new ways of teaching. Staff and students have been able to see a bright side to our new learning environment. 

“I have really enjoyed the challenge of changing things,” Morris said. “It sort of feels like a new art form.”