There are numerous big issues and countless details to address in order to deliver safe and supportive instruction in schools during the COVID pandemic.
In mid-July, the Kansas State Department of Education endorsed “Navigating Change,” a 1100-page document that outlines guidelines for school districts as they plan for schools to resume in the fall. For each cluster of grade levels, the report articulates ways to address Access and Equity, Competencies, Assessment, and Implementation. In addition, there are sections about Operations and Funding. The document seeks to give guidance on how to keep students, faculty, and staff safe while providing appropriate learning support to all students.
Shannon Kimball, president of the USC 497 School Board, outlined the “Navigating Change” document, explained the current decisions that the local school board has made, and made a few predictions about where the district is headed.
Kimball said that USD 497 has developed three options for achieving the state-required 1,116 minutes of contact time for every student: traditional in-person instruction; remote teaching/learning; and a hybrid of these two models. Work groups have devoted summer hours to devising these options. There have been surveys of parents and of faculty/staff to understand their points of view.
At their July 27 meeting, school district leaders decided to postpone the beginning of the school year to September 8 and to provide virtual instruction only during the first six weeks of the academic year. A local task force will coordinate and communicate as conditions evolve in the community.
Kimball assumes there will be a re-set by the end of September, but there will be no easy decisions.