How Have Private Schools In The Kansas City Area Handled The Covid-19 Pandemic?


Evelyn Brand, Writer

Slider image by Evelyn Brand.

One of the biggest questions that has arisen since the outbreak of Covid-19 is how do we keep our schools safe? Schools across the country have been struggling to answer this question since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Initially, schools across the globe were forced to have classes online. They are now returning to in-person lessons and the Covid-19 vaccine has been widely distributed across the world. 

Johnson County, Kan., the county in which Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) is located, has a mask mandate in place for all students, teachers, and faculty when they are in school buildings. HBHA has taken an extra step and installed air purifiers in all of its classrooms. Additionally, there are multiple hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the hallways of both the upper and lower school so that students can clean their hands when needed. Unlike the 2020-2021 school year, the 2021-2022 school year does not offer an online course for students who would like to socially distance themselves and work from home. HBHA has also removed previously required temperature checks before entering the building. There is no longer a requirement for students to wipe down their desks at the end of a class, although wipes and sprays are still available to them. 

HBHA students are fully in person for the 2021-2022 school year. Image by Evelyn Brand.

When it came to reopening schools during the pandemic, many questions arose on whether or not there should be sports at HBHA. Last school year there were few basketball games due to the high number of cases around the wintertime and the fact that the sport is played indoors. 

As the pandemic devastated the country, senior Shir-el Rudnick was understanding of schools going virtual but wished that sports never stopped. Rudnick said that sports gave her the opportunity to feel like she was “hanging out with friends” and doing something rather than “just sitting at home.” Rudnick says that she would have been willing to do Covid 19 testing before games if that was what was required to play sports safely. 

As the year progressed and the number of cases decreased, the girl’s soccer team was able to have multiple games in the spring. As of the fall 2021, sports such as cross country, boys soccer, and the newly added girls volleyball have been able to be played safely with zero outbreaks. 

Similar to HBHA, Kansas City Christain (KCC), a Christian private school located in Kansas City, Mo., requires everyone to wear a mask while at school. KCC, like HBHA, also had hand sanitizer stations around the school and took temperatures of students before entering the building. KCC had a designated room in the building where people displaying symptoms of Covid-19 can either wait for a test to come back negative or wait until they can go home or go to a health facility. KCC required students and faculty that had recently traveled to any of the locations listed on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website to quarantine for 14 days. 

The Barstow School (Barstow), a private school located in Kansas City, Mo., had a similar approach to overcome the difficulties presented by the pandemic. Barstow, like most schools around the world, took their lessons online when the Covid-19 pandemic originally struck in spring 2020. Barstow reopened their classrooms in the 2020-2021 school year but offered both an in-person and online option for their students. This allowed students to decide on a day-to-day basis whether they wanted to learn in person or online. 

Geordie Waldman, a current junior at Barstow, estimated that last year, only one-third of his class chose regularly to do in-person lessons. Waldman empathized with teachers who had to juggle teaching both the in-person and the online students, saying that “it was very hard for everyone.”

To ensure the safety of their students, Barstow did not open their lunch cafeteria that year and encouraged students to sit outside when eating. Desks at the school were also spread further apart in an attempt to socially distance the students. Additionally, masks were required for all personnel entering the building. Barstow maintained the option of in-person lessons for the entire year; one of the few schools able to do so. For the 2021-2022 school year, Barstow has continued to implement its mask mandate as well as social distancing. The cafeteria at the school, however, has reopened, and now students are allowed to eat lunch inside the building according to Walman. 

Social distancing has become part of the new normal for indoor gatherings. Image by Evelyn Brand.

Schools, much like these three mentioned, are everywhere continuing their efforts to keep their faculty and students safe in these unprecedented times. There continue to be mask requirements and mask debates across the country and globe. As America approaches the two-year checkmark of Covid-19 arriving in America, schools continued to figure out new ways of how to keep all of their students and faculty safe.