Mrs. Ewing reads her class a book about Chinese New Year traditions.

Markeydi Ewing reads her first-grade class a book about Chinese New Year traditions at Lee Elementary in December. Superintendent Marvin Wade announced Tuesday that the Manhattan-Ogden school district would allow families to choose between in-person learning like this and online learning during the upcoming school year.

Kansas schools won’t start teaching until after Labor Day at the earliest, after Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday afternoon she would sign an executive order pushing all school start dates back.

Kelly said the state is at a “make-it-or-break-it” moment, and given the recent rises in COVID-19 cases in Kansas, she could not in good conscience allow schools to open in August. The move will also give school districts more time to gather supplies like masks and sanitation materials, as well as to implement reopening guidelines approved by the state school board earlier Wednesday.

That will push Manhattan-Ogden’s start date, originally set for Wednesday, Aug. 12, back at least a month.

Kelly condemned state GOP leaders’ move to pare down her emergency powers during the pandemic and she said county commissions’ refusal to enact strict public health measures locally have led to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, cautioned that continued reckless behavior and disregard for public health precautions could break the state’s hospital system and make it impossible for schools — and businesses — to open at all.