There won’t be a Kansas State Fair this year, for the first time since 1916, another cancellation caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Fair officials had decided to take the public health risk and go ahead with annual festival of deep-fried food and 4-H exhibitions and farm implement sales and other Americana, but after Texas and Oklahoma and Nebraska cancelled their fairs about half of the food vendors and carnival ride companies that work the circuit decided it wouldn’t be profitable, which led to the cancellation.
The Kansas State Fair traditional happens in early September, when Kansas schools are traditionally in session, and there’s a big debate about whether that should happen this year. Gov. Laura Kelly has called for a delay in opening schools, but that’s ultimately up to the Kansas State Board of Education, which has scheduled meetings about it, and might go either way.
Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Kansas and unlikely to magically disappear by September, despite President Donald Trump’s fondest wishes, but there will nonetheless be a lot of political pressure to reopen the schools. Kansas is still a Republican state, although less so than it was five years ago, and Republicans everywhere are mostly eager to get back to normal no matter how abnormal the circumstances.
There’s an argument that K-12 students are at low risk of being infected and more likely to survive if they do, but low risk isn’t the same as no risk and most of the students’ parents and teachers are at greater risk. The students finished the last school year at home and online, and there’s no reason they can’t start the next year the same way, and although it’s no ideal there’s no chance of catching the coronavirus over the internet. Presumably the Kansas Board of Education will take that into consideration.
In any case of a lot of Kansas parents will send their children back to school when they think it’s safe, and we hope their children aren’t penalized for it. We’re as eager as anyone to get life back to normal, but the way things are going it’s best not to be overeager.
— Bud Norman