COVID-19: Local school districts works on learning plan, offers free meals for children; spring sports canceled
Late Tuesday afternoon, March 17, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order to — essentially — close all K-12 school buildings or facilities used for student instruction and to cease in-person instruction, while simultaneously developing and implementing a Continuous Learning Plan to provide instruction in a safe manner. For exact wording from the order, see the story on Page 6A of this week’s Herald.
Prairie Hills USD 113 Superintendent Todd Evans released a message to the community the following day, reassuring district patrons that the district will be doing all they can for students in the coming months.
“I have not experienced a situation like this in my lifetime,” Evans wrote. “Our district has endured challenges and hardships before, and we will get through this together. We will not be remembered for the adversity that confronts us, we will be remembered for how we respond to this adversity. In USD 113, we will continue to prepare kids and shape the future.”
From a Continuous Learning Plan to a free meal service, Prairie Hills USD 113 administration and staff are already hard at work for district patrons during this time.
Late last week, the Kansas Department of Education’s Continuous Learning Task Force provided guidelines to schools across Kansas regarding the preparation and implementation of a Continuous Learning Plan.
Just as the name implies, continuous learning will allow Kansas students to continue learning despite school buildings being closed for the rest of the school year. The task force recommended that districts focus on essential learning for students and use materials, resources and platforms that already are in place.
All school districts are tasked with submitting a board-approved plan to the state by April 7.
Superintendent Evans, district and building administration began using the guiding information to work on a learning plan on Friday, March 20, and on Saturday had an administrative meeting. Work as an administrative group continued on Monday, March 23.
Parents already should have received a survey from their school administrators, or a text alert, that requested information pertaining to what type of learning would work best for their family at this time. This should be followed up by a school person making personal contact with each child or family within the next week, Evans said.
“Our number one priority is student safety and security,” Superintendent Evans said. “We want to make sure that our students are okay before we continue with instruction.”
Superintendent Evans said USD 113 hopes to be ready to begin implementation of a plan on Tuesday, March 31. At this time, he said, district administration anticipates implementing the learning plans through the last regular day of school — which is May 21.
As far as particulars about what the district’s learning plan will look like, Superintendent Evans said to be assured they are working on it but are not in a place where they have solid answers.
“We haven’t had much of a chance to put this information and plan together,” Superintendent Evans said. “Many members of the administrative staff were working during spring break to deal with this situation as it has arisen this past week. We have to consider a lot of different contingencies.”
At this time, Evans said the goal of the learning plan will be to use platforms that already have been introduced in classrooms — Seesaw, Class Dojo and Google Classroom, for example.
At this time, he said, face-to-face meetings between adults and students are not planned. Video conferencing, e-mails and possibly phone calls with instructors may be used for instruction to keep everyone safe.
“We are very limited at this time for the number of people allowed in a building,” Superintendent Evans said. “We have disinfected commonly touched surfaces throughout our buildings. We are working to be systemic regarding any access of the facilities in order to maintain the cleanliness and safety of people. Meal prep personnel will need to use some facilities for meal preparations.”
Finally, Superintendent Evans said the district will be keeping within the guidance from the task force regarding the expected amount of time for students to spend learning each day. The recommended guidelines for maximum students commitment each day are as follows: pre-kindergarten, 30 minutes; kindergarten and first grades, 45 minutes; second and third grades, 60 minutes; fourth and fifth grades, 90 minutes; sixth through 12th grades, 30 minutes per teacher for a maximum of three hours per day.
Superintendent Evans said one of the terms the administrative team continues repeating is “grace.”
“We need to extend kindness, compassion and patience to all who are striving to make this situation as positive as possible,” Evans said.
Free Grab-and-Go Meal Service — for any child from age 1 through 18 — is being offered at eight locations across USD 113. Meals are packaged safely, and provided through your vehicle window by staff members wearing protective gloves.
The meal, provided at lunchtime, is for lunch that day and breakfast the following morning. Menus are available at www.usd113.org. Menus also will be posted on The Sabetha Herald’s Community Calendar — found on Page 2 of The Herald each week.
Meal service is available at the following locations from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday: Sabetha Elementary School, Wetmore Academic Center and Axtell Public School driveways.
Meal service is available at the following locations from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday: Fairview City Park, Morrill Community Center, Bern Community Library, Summerfield Community Center and Goff Community Center.
Meal delivery also is available in cases of self-isolation or quarantine. For more information, contact Brook Brubeck at [email protected]113.org.
The meal service is being offered through a United State Department of Agriculture program. Meals provided are free for any child, whether they attend school in USD 113 or not, from ages 1 through 18. This does not, however, translate to a cost for the district.
“Cost of the program will be the same as our Summer Food Program that we have had for Goff and Wetmore the past couple of years. There is no additional cost to the district,” Superintendent Evans said. “In some cases, non-food service staff are helping with transporting or distributing these meals. Kudos go to Brook Brubeck and the Food Service staff for their efforts to help our kids and families.”
LOCAL, STATE SPORTS
Sabetha City Recreation
The City of Sabetha decided it is best to suspend all items concerning recreation sports until further notice. For now, the City of Sabetha will not continue with team selections or team equipment for summer t-ball, baseball and softball programs. Sabetha’s Recreation Director Jeremy Haverkamp said to not expect an email from the coaches regarding teams and practices.
KSHSAA Spring Sports
In accordance with Governor Kelly’s executive order regarding the closure and cessation of in-person instruction in all Kansas schools through May 29, 2020, the KSHSAA is canceling all spring championships, competitions and festivals for the remainder of this school year. According to KSHSAA Assistant Executive Director Jeremy Holaday, KSHSAA recognizes the value of school activities for all students and school communities, but the current situation does not permit the opportunity for school activities to take place in a manner that is consistent with the very reason school activities exist.
“As a commitment to the health of Kansas students and communities, the best decision and only reasonable response is to cancel the regular season and post-season spring activity season,” Holaday said. “We all have an important responsibility to minimize community transmission as we embrace suggested precautions regarding COVID-19. As educators, the primary focus for our students and families is the health and well-being of each student. This action by the KSHSAA supports that effort across Kansas.”
KSHSAA strongly discourages non-school activity participation at this time in an effort to mitigate the community transmission of the coronavirus. All CDC, KDHE and KSDE recommendations for preventing disease transmission should be followed at this time for any non-school activity in which a student participates. The following links provide access to those resources: CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/; KDHE, http://www.kdheks.gov/; and KSDE, https://www.ksde.org/.