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Nick’s Picks | Back to School…For Now, RNC Week and New Charlie Parker Film Sporting Kansas City also welcomes fans back this week

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3 minute read

It’s first day of class for most of our area universities. The University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Kansas, University of Missouri-Columbia and Kansas State University are all beginning in-person instruction this week.

Many students, though, are now finding that after moving into their dorms all of their classes have shifted online.

How long can they stay open? A week? Two weeks? Less than a week?

It’s a big question after Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina just announced they were suspending in-person instruction after recording swarms of COVID-19 infections, just days after starting the fall semester. 

College administrators in our area say they’re being extra vigilant, including setting up tip lines that will allow staff and students to anonymously report those who fail to wear masks or social distance. In fact KU’s official tip website is called “UNMASKED.”

Independence students

While most of our area K-12 school districts have decided to delay the start of school and to push back in-person learning indefinitely, there are some districts in the metro that are dismissing the advice of public health leaders. 

This week, students in the Independence School District head back to class. Not virtually. They will be sitting in actual chairs in real physical classrooms. Not all teachers are happy about it. But they’ve been told if they don’t like it, they can opt out — with no pay.

Independence is not the only school district heading back.  The Center School District and Pleasant Hill are also returning to the classroom this week.

We you know if there are COVID-19 cases in schools? Not necessarily.  If you missed it, The New York Times just singled out the North Kansas City School District for adopting a policy not to disclose infections. They say they’re concerned about the privacy of students and staff members.

RNC convenes

This week the Republican National Convention gets underway.

We’ve been pouring through the schedule and Republicans have found primetime speaking slots for a number of Kansas and Missouri political figures.

Former Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo, who now serves as Secretary of State, is speaking Tuesday night.

Also on the schedule is Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the Missouri couple who were slapped with felony charges for brandishing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters as they marched passed their home last month.

Ann Dorn will also speak. She’s the widow of a retired Missouri police officer who was shot and killed by looters amid a night of violence and unrest in St. Louis following the George Floyd protests.

Unlike the Democratic National Convention last week, the GOP will be physically meeting at the Charlotte Convention Center.  To maintain social distancing, each state is allowed to bring six delegates. So there will be at least six people from Kansas and six from Missouri in the audience when the cameras turn on.

Your Kansas City PBS station will provide you a great window into all the action. We’re showing three hours of primetime coverage every night, starting at 7 p.m. The convention runs through Thursday.

Sporting KC fans

For the first time since the pandemic began, Sporting Kansas City is inviting fans back to Children’s Mercy Park. The team expects 2,500 fans to be in attendance Tuesday night as Sporting KC takes on Houston.

Some eyebrows are being raised about the wisdom of holding a game with even a reduced number of fans. The stadium is in the metro area county that has been hardest hit by COVID-19.

A place for MLK

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be back in the headlines in Kansas City this week.  The Kansas City Parks Board on Tuesday is expected to hear a new proposal to name a street after the slain civil rights leader. 

Now that voters have blocked the renaming of The Paseo after King, the Parks Board is considering plans to rename an east-west thoroughfare after him.  No specific road has been named but 63rd Street has emerged as a likely option.

Services for Mike Copeland

Funeral services are this week for the longtime mayor of Olathe. Mike Copeland will be laid to rest on Friday. He led Johnson County’s second largest city for 19 years. Copeland died unexpectedly at the age of 58. No cause of death has been provided.

Pamela Butler’s killer

If you’ve lived in Kansas City a while, you may remember the tragic story of Pamela Butler. She was the 10 year old who made national news after being abducted in broad daylight while rollerblading outside of her home in Kansas City, Kansas. That was back in 1999. 

Now, the man who killed her, Keith Nelson, is to be executed at a federal penitentiary in Indiana on Friday.

Remembering ‘Bird’

Bird Not Out Of Nowhere

This Saturday marks the 100th birthday of one of Kansas City’s most famous sons. Jazz legend Charlie Parker was born a century ago this week in Kansas City, Kansas. He was raised in the Westport area and attended Lincoln High School.  Scores of different events are being held here and around the world to mark this centennial. And we are part of it. 

Kansas City PBS has produced a new documentary that looks at the years Charlie “Bird” Parker spent in Kansas City, including rarely seen or heard archival footage and music.  See for yourself as we present, “Bird: Not Out of Nowhere” this Saturday at 7 p.m.

Nick Haines tracks the week’s local news on the primetime public affairs program, “Kansas City Week in Review.” Watch Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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