Wichita school board approves partial in-person return for middle, high-school students
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Tuesday night, Oct. 20, 2020: The Wichita Public Schools Board of Education on Tuesday night (Oct.20) voted to bring some middle-and-high-school students back to the classroom in a hybrid model. The blended onsite and remote model rotates students in groups throughout the week. For example, one group would do in-person learning Monday and Tuesday with the second group meeting in-person on Thursday and Friday.
There would be no in-person learning Wednesday. The model allows for smaller class sizes and social distancing. However, the school board warns, this could be a challenge for teachers having a mix of in-person and remote instruction in the same classes.
The partial return to in-person learning for Wichita public school students at the middle-and-high-school levels begins Nov. 9 and the second quarter of the school year.
The Wichita School Board will discuss Tuesday whether some students should return to the classroom.
Middle and high school students have spent most of the first quarter of the school year online. Now, the board will re-evaluate that decision. Some teachers and parents think students need to be onsite.
"I’d like to go back to school, just to see teachers, friends. Just get out of the house honestly.”
Others say it’s not the right time to bring them back.
“I doubt we will bring all students back, just because of where our criteria is right now, but we are looking at options of how to get as many students back as we can," said School Board President Sherill Logan. "Our administration is planning to bring us a plan to do that, so we will be reviewing that and talking about it.”
Logan said the decision is based on the number of cases in Sedgwick County and recommendations from Wichita’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee.
“This is an impossible decision. You’re trying to make decisions for the unknown, how the virus is going to go up and down," said Logan.
USD 259 has reported fewer than 200 positive cases of COVID-19 between students and staff. According to the district’s surveillance report, half of the students who have tested positive for the virus are enrolled in remote learning. The other 34 of 71 are onsite. The district has 328 active quarantines as of Friday, October 16.
“We’ve had a few more cases with staff, but again, percentage-wise, it’s really low. We’re working really closely with our staff to be very careful when they are away from school so they don’t have large gatherings," said Logan.
The board will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, October 20 at 6 p.m., inside the Lecture Hall at North High School to discuss whether more students should return to onsite learning.
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