Kansas Dept. of Education votes 9-0 to accept guidance for reopening schools

KNSS News
July 15, 2020 - 1:06 pm
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After months of work, the Kansas Department of Education voted 9-0 on Wednesday to accept guidelines for “Navigating Change: Kansas Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations” to assist schools in their preparations for the 2020-2021 school year.

The plan was created with input from hundreds of educators, parents, and community members from across the state. The plan includes only recommendations, not mandates; meaning it is up to the school districts to decide what is best for students and staff.

The entire plan consists of 1,088 pages and gives recommendations for almost every aspect of school operations from pre-K through high school. The plan covers two main parts, the first is how schools will operate with students in the building. Some of the recommendations include:

- Students 6th grade and up, all staff and visitors should wear face masks.

- Students 5th grade and under will likely be distracted by masks, and are therefore not included in this recommendation.

- Maintain social distancing of at least 6-feet, when possible.

- All students and staff should wash their hands every hour.

- Students and staff who are sick should stay home.

- Daily temperature screenings of all students and staff.

This recommendation was made but understood to potentially be too time-consuming and difficult for schools, especially those with large student populations.

There are recommendations on how to limit the number of students in the lunchroom, halls, or classrooms at one time. The recommendations also touch on how to stay safe during recess and extra-curricular activities. Proper cleaning guidance was also included. To see all of the school ‘operations’ recommendations click here and go to page 1010 of the document.

The second main part of the plan covers how schools will teach remotely; either if the school district chooses not to reopen or to close again, or for students who do not feel safe returning to school.

“How the district sets that up and what students will want to take advantage of that and how it will be staffed. That’s one set of decisions,” explained Mark Tallman, Associate Director of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Districts can choose to allow students to learn remotely or do a hybrid-learning program; that would mean a student would spend some time learning in the school building and some time learning from home. If students are learning remotely, certain guidelines must be met under the plan, including:

- Meeting the 1,116 hours of learning required by Kansas law.

- Filling out a daily remote learning log (see photo below).

- Daily communication with a teacher employed by the school district.

- Remote students will be held to the same standards and expectations of the in-person students.

Remote learning log draft
Remote learning log draft

To learn more about the recommendations for remote learning click here and go to page 9 in the document.

Many school districts were waiting on these state recommendations before finalizing their plans for the fall.

“They’re going to look at the guidance from the State Board and other factors,” said Tallman, “They’re going to be getting input from their communities, their families, their staffs and other groups, and then try to figure out, ‘what are we going to do to start school?’ and ‘what are the contingency plans we have if something changes after we start?'”

To view the full Navigating Change plan recommendations, click here. The table of contents can be found on page 7 of the document.

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