NEWTON—When school resumes Sept. 3 in Newton USD 373, Sara Kelly's daughter will not be joining her classmates. Kelly, a single mother, will be moving to part time at her job to reduce the need for other people to watch her child and reduce uncertainty in her home.
But that has not stopped Kelly from launching a program called "Cover Our Kids" to try and help the families and children of Newton USD 373 — and she launched a program to start collecting masks for children attending school in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic before she had made decisions about her own. She hopes to get at least one mask for each student. There are more than 3,000 students in the district.
"My kid will not be in the district this year, which is ironic. I am doing this for the kids in the district. They matter. My daughter is not the only one that matters," Kelly said. "I put in work for my daughter to show her she can achieve awesome things, to communicate to her the meaning of giving back and what it looks like."
The governor issued an executive order, which was initially rejected by the Harvey County Commission, in June. The Newton City Commission debated the issue, and had a resolution on its agenda suggesting that masks be worn when the county commission ultimately decided to pass one of its own.
The requirements for mask usage in the Newton school district became final about a week ago, the same time the district announced plans to start school Sept. 3 and allow parents to select an online only or "flexible plan" model for their children.
Kelly has partnered with Norm's Coffee Bar and Mojo's, on the Bethel College campus to collect mask donations for kids. The coffee shops will serve as collection points."Whatever size, make and model, you can donate would be great," Kelly said.
There is also an account established with the Central Kansas Community Foundation for financial donations the district can use to purchase masks as needed.