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What will 'Back to School' look like this fall?


Posted Date: 07/21/2020

What will 'Back to School' look like this fall?

Educating students will take place in Kansas this school year, but where and how it takes place will be different.

What’s clear this week is that teachers will create lessons and teach, and students will be expected to complete work at school or in a remote environment for the 1,116 hours of instruction time that comprise the school year per the state Board of Education.

Creating the logistics to make that happen is what Chanute teachers, staff and administrators have and will continue to work on for the next six weeks. At the forefront of their planning is how to keep staff and students safe and ensure learning, regardless of environment.

Governor Kelly has recommended delaying the start of school until the Tuesday after Labor Day, Sept. 8. That order is to be finalized this week. The Kansas State Board of Education issued Thursday its guidelines to the state’s school districts, which involves creating three plans on how to educate students, from on-site in school buildings, to online learning from remote sites, or a hybrid of the two.

Plans must be flexible and adaptable as the coronavirus runs its course.

School districts in Kansas vary from less than 100 students on the western side of the state to more than 49,000 at Wichita or 30,000 at Olathe. One plan will not fit all. Likewise, the coronavirus has spread rapidly in some areas of the state and not in others. School districts need to be able to move from one plan to another based on the spread of COVID -19 and its impact on the local community.

“Learning environments must be tailored to the specific needs of each family and school community. Regardless of how those environments are tailored, the state Board of Education stresses that rigor and accountability must be maintained throughout the year,” states the KSBE report.

Assistant Superintendent Tracy Russell will be leading the instructional committee that will address educational plans for students Pre-K -2, grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Superintendent Kellen Adams will oversee the operations committee that will address logistics and safety in the areas of health, classrooms, common spaces, and transitions from one space to another, extra- and co-curricular activities, facilities, food service and transportation.

These conversations must include working with the Neosho County Health Department, said Commissioner of Education Randy Watson.

There are thousands of unanswered questions to be addressed over the next several weeks, with regulations on masks, classroom sizes, lockers, how to transport students and feed everyone while maintaining social distance requirements being just a few examples.

Patience is appreciated. As Chanute Public Schools works through its educational and safety operations plans, information will be shared with parents and the public.

Guidelines from KSHSAA were to be released this week regarding athletics and activities. That has been put on hold until after the governor’s order takes effect. Commissioner Watson did say Thursday, that if a school district is educating students in a purely remote environment, he didn’t believe holding athletic events would be feasible.