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Kansas school board blocks governor's order to delay start of schools

Kansas school board blocks governor's order to delay start of schools
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The Kansas State Board of Education voted Wednesday to reject an executive order from the state's Democratic governor pushing school start dates back to September.

Under the current policy, which remains in effect, local districts will now decide for themselves when to start the school year. Gov. Laura Kelly's order would have barred any public or private schools in Kansas from resuming classes until Sept. 8.

The GOP-controlled state legislature has mandated that any executive orders from Kelly on school openings be approved by the state board, so the split 5-5 vote was enough to kill her move.

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"The cases of COVID-19 in Kansas are at an all-time high and continue to rise. Our decisions must be informed by public health experts not politics," Kelly said in a statement. "This vote puts our students, faculty, their families and our economy at risk."

"I will continue to work with our school districts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children and ask every school district to delay the start of school," she added.

Some board members told ABC News that they opposed the order during Wednesday's vote out of concern for rural areas that have yet to experience major outbreaks.

"This virus is not the same across the state," member Jean Clifford said.

Kansas has seen rising numbers of new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks and has now registered more than 24,000 confirmed cases. Some 321 people have died in the state since the pandemic began.

State leaders across the country have faced calls from national leaders including Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosErik Prince involved in push for experimental COVID-19 vaccine: report Biden administration reverses Trump-era policy that hampered probes of student loan companies DeVos ordered to testify in student loan forgiveness lawsuit MORE to begin reopening school even as rising numbers of new coronavirus infections threaten plans to reopen business sectors and other public spaces.