2020-2021 School Year Plans

USD327 hopes you are having a super summer!  327 wants to keep you informed about both the State and Local efforts going on concerning the upcoming school year.   

Please read the following article from the Kansas Association of School Board’s (KASB) Newsroom in Topeka and re-published here with their permission.  Then be sure to continue reading below to learn more about our local efforts to prepare for next school year.

- - - - - - - -

How will Kansas Re-Open Schools?

(Republished from KASB)

An unprecedented planning effort is under way to re-open Kansas schools in August while also preparing for the possibility of another interrupted school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to open school in August,” Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson said Wednesday during a briefing to the State Board of Education. “And were going to keep kids safe and families safe,” he added.

Hundreds of education leaders, including school board members, parents, health officials, legislators and others have been working on plans to reopen schools, ensure that facilities are safe and academic rigor and accountability are maintained.

The challenges are immense.

School officials face numerous conflicting views in which some have demanded schools open as scheduled while others have said they won’t return to schools if the risk of spreading COVID-19 continues.

In addition, decisions to open and close schools will largely be up to local school and health officials. “It’s going to have to be really tight communication between the school district and county health,” said Deputy Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander.

And when schools reopen they will still have to provide blended systems to serve students whose parents keep them home for continuous learning while others go to school.

The reopening also comes with increased fiscal costs, such as the need for more cleaning supplies and social distancing equipment, at a time when the state faces dramatic revenue declines related to COVID-19.

The work at the state level will be “guidances” for local school districts. The guidance document will be submitted to the State Board of Education on July 14.

Local school boards across the state have been discussing reopening issues and making preparations. Watson emphasized the guidance is now a work in progress and once finished can be used as recommendations to local districts. He acknowledged there is a lot of anxiety across the state in preparing the next school year.

Gov. Laura Kelly shut down schools in March to curb the spread of the corona virus and educators switched to online continuous learning plans for most instruction through the end of the year. Kansas’ continuous learning plans have been praised throughout the nation. Watson said continuous learning was an emergency plan, while the new guidance being composed will focus on accountability measures to ensure students are learning what they need to learn despite disruptions and changes to traditional instruction.

- - - - - - - -

USD327 is pursuing this unprecedented challenge in similar ways.  The Board of Education has reviewed and discussed Covid-Challenges in each of their last 3 board meetings.  There is a group of teachers and admin who are serving on a committee called Teaching To Tomorrow (T³).  Lastly the admin team is meeting frequently to combine and process the information from both of those groups.  

Each of these district leader groups are concerned with the health of our students, staff, community, and the physical buildings.  They are also searching for impactful ways to improve our teaching staff and their delivery of instruction to our students.  Delivery models include: face-to-face; on-line; hybrid of everything in between.   

Currently district leaders are planning to open school on-time and similar to the “school” you remember Pre-Spring-Break 2020.  However, we all must realize it will not be the same.  How we conduct our learning interaction between student and teachers, how we deliver instruction and create curiosity in learning will all be changing to some degree.  There will also be changes in how we can remain healthy, yet still conduct “school”.   Also realize that we all must be ready for any "in-flight" emergencies that may come up.  These emergencies can de-rail the plan and change the way school is conducted.

A few matters already being addressed by the T³ group thus far are:  inter-school student email addresses for students in grades 5-12; preparing for the use of Google School and Seesaw as the platforms the district will use; creating professional development and other learning opportunities for our students, teachers, and parents; and integrating technology in the first days of school so as to be better prepared for possible future challenges.     

The group is meeting on a weekly basis and has done so for about 6 weeks.  Staff on the Teaching To Tomorrow group are: Sarah Freeman, Sarah Kueser, Dan Magie, Jason Maisog, Kenny Cravens, Amy Johnson, Meredith Musil, Karl Dawn Stover, Tammi Graff, Kristy Rodriguez, Ken Windholz, and Ron Davis.     

Look for more information concerning the coming school year as the weeks of summer go on!  In the meantime, read, play, engage your students, and enjoy your families.  And as always, Be Well and Be GREAT!