SHAWNEE, KS (KCTV) -- The city of Shawnee is preparing for some children in their city to be virtual learning for quite some time and they want to regulate virtual learning centers that are popping up in some businesses.

Right now, there is nothing in Shawnee’s city code that pertains to virtual learning centers.

So, when businesses like dance studios and sports complexes started asking the city what they could and could not do, the city had to create guidelines.

Now they want to make the new rules official.

Francine Edmunds moved her family to Shawnee amid the pandemic.

“It’s a bit overwhelming, the remote learning,” she said.

Her first grader, sixth grader, eighth grader, and toddler have all been learning from home.

Since she and her husband work full time, it’s been the grandparents mostly navigating virtual school.

“They’re super helpful, but technology is not their forte. So, they’re trying to figure out how to get on every time and I’m getting phone calls like, ‘This is not working!’” Edmunds explained.

So, when the she heard of “pandemic pods” or “virtual learning centers,” they seriously considered signing the kids up.

“The city has seen a few different types of businesses wanting to add sort of a remote learning guidance to the services that they’re already providing,” said Stephanie Malmborg.

Malmborg is the deputy community development director for Shawnee and she said the city doesn’t want to stop people from creating virtual learning centers, but simply to make sure they’re safe.

They quickly developed an administrative policy that requires:

  • A safe drop-off and pick-up zone.
  • A review by the city and fire marshal.
  • A business license with the city.
  • And possibly licenses with the state.

They want to make that policy official by changing the city code.

“We wanted to look at our code and see how we might be able to clarify allowing those types of uses and what sort of stipulations might be necessary in order to make sure they’re safe for the kids,” Malmborg said.

The regulations would pertain to commercial and industrial properties doing learning centers, not people’s homes.

Edmunds is down with making sure they’re safe, but said, “I just feel like if there’s too many regulations then people are going to back off helping and then working parents are kind of left to themselves.”

The city planning commission will have a work session Monday night to discuss details of the new regulations.

Then, there will be public hearing on Oct. 19 where anyone can address concerns.

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