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Wichita Public Schools revisits plans with start date delayed past Labor Day

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 1:47 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Thursday, July 16, 2020 Update: Wichita Public Schools, the largest district in the state, is revisiting plans for the upcoming school year following the announcement from Kansas Governor Laura Kelly to expect an executive order pushing start dates to Sept. 9 (past Labor Day).

The timetable adjustments the district will have to make comes with many questions from parents. While the district doesn’t yet have comprehensive answers to all of the questions, it says it’s working hard to come up with a cemented plan to keep its 50,000-plus students safe.

Wichita Public Schools said the governor’s announcement about the executive order to delay the start of schools by more than two weeks came as a surprise as it was already laying out plans to start school in August. This included a soft launch. The first full day for all students would have been Aug. 24.

With the delay, will training for online schooling be provided for teachers prior to the start of school?

The district said, yes. Teachers can expect to be trained prior to the start of school, and there will be two teachers per class to teach in-person and online with blended learning. It won’t expect one teacher to take on both tasks.

Among the questions yet to have answers: Can the district continue with its place, or does it have to adhere to the governor’s order? When will the plan for schools in USD 259 be finalized? What will parent options for students be? Will breakfast and lunch in the summer food program continue to be provided during the delay? And, how will the district make up for the time lost by starting school late? Will the last day of school then be pushed further out?

Kelly’s order will be issued Monday (July 20) and the state board of education will vote next week to approve or reject it. The governor said she expects the board to approve the order to delay school starts until after Labor Day.

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Previous story: Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Wichita Public Schools released more details Wednesday on how it expects to ease students into the upcoming school year.

According to the district’s “Future Ready Return to School - Learning Model Options,” the school year will begin with a “soft launch.” The proposed calendar for the first two weeks would begin with staff in-services and morning sessions only for all students. The first full day for all students would be on August 24:

  • August 5 – 14: Staff Inservices
  • August 14: 6th and 9th Grade Orientation
  • August 17 – 21:
  • K-12 students attend morning session only
    • Start and End Times:
      • 7:00am – 11:15am
      • 8:00am – 12:15pm
      • 9:00am – 1:15pm
  • Latchkey not available during Soft Launch
  • August 24: All students attend full day
    • Regular school hours

The district will have three model options for learning: onsite (in-person learning), MySchool Remote (online learning while enrolled at base school) and Education Imagine Academy (a K-12, full-time virtual school).

ONSITE LEARNING

Onsite learning will include students returning to school with physical bell times and schedule and health safety guidelines. Social distancing will include staggered passing periods, cohort isolation in elementary schools and plans to eliminate large gatherings of students in hallways and common areas in secondary schools.

Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout schools, staff will be provided disinfecting supplies, protocols established for screening, contact tracing and cleaning, and visitors will be limited.

Nutrition Services

The district said it will offer a “quick-serve menu” for breakfast and lunch at all school levels. Choice bars and ala carte will be eliminated at all levels, lunch periods will be staggered when possible and other locations will be utilized, such as classrooms for elementary students, and carts throughout the building for middle and high schoolers.

Transportation

Bus drivers, monitors and students will all be required to wear masks. Students will load from the bus back to front and unload front to back. Students from the same household will be required to sit together, and students in grades K-8 will spread out and use assigned seating.

MySCHOOL REMOTE (k-12)

MySCHOOL REMOTE will allow students to enroll in their neighborhood or magnet schools. Technology devices provided to students and they will participate in a full traditional school day online. Daily lessons for elementary school students will include face to face interaction with a teacher. Secondary students will receive daily face to face interaction with teachers for every class period. Attendance will also be taken daily in each course.

EDUCATION IMAGINE ACADEMY (K-12)

Education Imagine Academy is a fulltime virtual school. Technology devices would be provided to students. Online course offerings and electives would provide an individualized experience for each student including – flexible timeframe for completion of assignments and the flexibility to work outside of regular school hours. Students will be assessed on the same standards and competencies as they would in a traditional classroom. Online interaction with staff will be based on the student’s learning pace, academic and social, emotional needs. Students could transfer back to their base school assignment at the end of the semester.

Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday afternoon that she would be issuing an executive order to delay reopening schools until after Labor Day.

USD 259 issued the following statement regarding the governor’s decision:

“The safety of our students and our staff has always been the top priority as we develop our Future Ready Return to School plan. We appreciate Governor Kelly and our Kansas State Board of Education for also keeping safety in the forefront. There is a lot we will need to learn about the details of Governor Kelly’s executive orders as it relates to our planning work, and we will provide more information as soon as possible. Because we have our third Board of Education workshop scheduled on July 17, we anticipate that the BOE will have a conversation about the executive orders during that workshop,” said a spokesperson for the district.:

The Wichita School Board is currently set to finalize its plan to return to school on July 20.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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