Parents protest outside Andover High School for the second day due to the district's COVID protocol
Editor's Note: The headlines of this story were changed Aug. 24 to better reflect that the protocols being protested were set by the county health department, and not Andover Public Schools. Quotations were added from Terry Rombeck, Communication and media relations for Andover Public Schools, who had contacted reporters prior to the publication of this story.
When everyone is getting ready to go back to school, it's supposed to be a smooth transition. Students are reunited with friends and are getting ready to learn, then parents get some time away or can focus without worrying about the kids.
However, in recent days, some Andover parents are upset the district sent a child home after coming into contact with a student that tested positive for COVID-19.
"I don't want to get into the debate about the vaccine," said Scott Moll. "People have good reasons for getting it and people have reasons not to get it. However, this situation is serving to divide the student body."
Moll was frustrated that the district sent his son home.
The district followed protocols established by the Butler and Sedgwick County health departments for those who have been identified as a close contact to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Aug. 17, Moll organized a protest in front of the high school. The protest would happen again on Wednesday before and after school.
"A lot of things were taken away from the kids last season," said Moll. "I just don't want to see that again because someone decides to get the vaccination or not. We need to be transparent and come up with a great solution."
On Tuesday, after the parents' concerns, Andover Public Schools issued the following statement to KAKE News:
"Andover Public Schools is required to follow isolation and quarantine protocols set by the Butler County and Sedgwick County health departments for those who test positive or are deemed a close contact. The student's or staff member's county of residency determines which health department's protocols we follow in a given situation. We certainly understand the frustration with being required to isolate or quarantine, but we are simply following health department protocols."
In an email to the Times-Gazette, Terry Rombeck, Communication and media relations of Andover Public Schools, stated that the district is following protocols that have been in place for more than a year.
"These are protocols mandated by the Butler and Sedgwick County health departments," Rombeck wrote. "Questions about why the protocols are in place should be directed to the county health departments."
Some protestors, however, do not believe that the county health department should be issuing guidelines for schools — and that individual school districts should make their own decisions.
"The counties should have no say over the school district," said Natalie Ellis, a protester. "The school district can make its own guidelines and recommendations, but we should have a voice in what's going on with our kids and our school."
Parents protesting outside the high school would like to talk to the Board of Education and see if they can reach a compromise on handling COVID protocols.