Masks optional for summer school

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Masks will be optional for teachers and students during summer school programs in Leavenworth.

The Leavenworth Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to make the wearing of face coverings optional in Leavenworth public schools once the current school year has concluded.

Board members took the action after Superintendent Mike Roth recommended that masks be optional during summer school.

He said district officials can monitor what happens during the summer to help in making determinations about moving forward.

He said board members can revisit the issue this summer.

“Naturally, we’ll continue to monitor and communicate with the county health department,” Roth said.

Roth said many people want students to continue to wear masks and many others are against a mask requirement. He said the school district is trying to balance a teeter totter for student safety.

The superintendent said the school district will still need to follow other protocols related to COVID-19.

“There’s still risk,” he said. “It’s not going away.”

Laura Batson, director of teaching and learning, told board members the school district will conduct summer school programs for elementary, intermediate and middle school, and high school students from June 7 to July 30.

She said more than 200 students are enrolled in the upcoming summer school programs.

Roth said enrollment in summer school is voluntary.

Board President Doug Darling suggested students should be allowed to remove their masks when participating in recess and other outdoor activities for the remainder of the current school year.

Roth expressed concern that possible COVID-19 exposure and quarantine could disrupt the end of the school year for some students including graduation for seniors.

While board members voted to make masks optional for summer school, they took no action on Darling’s recommendation.

Board members did vote to make masks optional for much of the graduation ceremony that is scheduled for May 22 at Leavenworth High School.

Graduating seniors will be required to wear masks as they walk onto the football field at the beginning of the ceremony. Once seated, they will be able to remove their masks. Masks will be optional as students walk onto the stage to receive their diplomas.

The graduates will be asked to wear masks as they walk off of the football field.

In other business

The Leavenworth Board of Education:

• Voted to approve a new bus lane at Henry Leavenworth Elementary School.

Superintendent Mike Roth said the lane also can be used for vans from local day care centers.

The estimated cost of the construction of the new bus lane is $50,000.

School officials hope the creation of the bus lane will help alleviate the problem of stacking of vehicles on Vilas Street as parents wait to pick up their children.

• Approved an overall 3% increase in pay for classified employees and a 2% increase for administrative staff. The amount of individual pay increases may vary among employees. Board members approved pools of money that will be used for raises.

• Approved the use of federal money allocated to the school district to pay for about 15 additional positions. The positions include elementary co-teachers, social workers and counselors.

Roth said these positions likely will be temporary. The federal money used to fund the positions has to be spent by the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

• Approved the hiring of Jack Johnson to serve as the principal next year at Richard Warren Middle School.

He currently works as an associate principal at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee.

Board members approved the hiring of Johnson by voting on a staffing report, which listed various personnel changes.

Current Warren Principal Kevin Warner has accepted a position as an assistant superintendent in the Ulysses school district, according to Roth.