School officials continue reopening plans after governor announces delay

John Richmeier
jrichmeier@leavenworthtimes.com
Members of a Strategic Reopening Committee for the Basehor-Linwood school district watch an announcement from Gov. Laura Kelly. The committee was meeting Wednesday when the governor announced plans to delay the start of the school year until after Labor Day.

On Monday, Leavenworth’s superintendent told school board members he hoped to start the 2020-2021 school year Aug. 17.

But two days later, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced she will be issuing an executive order that will delay the start of school across the state until after Labor Day.

“Today’s announcement from the Governor of Kansas was not expected, yet, we must all remain continuously flexible to the most current information specific to the overall health of our community and state,” Superintendent Mike Roth wrote in a statement that was posted Wednesday on the school district’s Facebook page. “Leavenworth USD 453 will use the opportunity provided by the delayed start of the 20-21 school year to actively plan for the safe return of students and staff in September.”

In his statement, Roth indicated district officials are “planning for scenarios to support a traditional school environment with additional safeguards and precautions in place. These scenarios will include an online instructional delivery model to serve students with higher health risks at home.”

Roth wrote that it is possible students and school staff may fluctuate “between a traditional and online setting” in the event of people having direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and recommended quarantines.

Officials in the Leavenworth school system as well as other Kansas school districts recently received guidance from the Kansas State Department of Education regarding the reopening of schools.

On Wednesday, the Kansas State Board of Education officially accepted the guidance document prepared by the State Department of Education. The document, which totals more than 1,000 pages, is called “Navigating Change: Kansas’ Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations.”

A copy of the document can be found on KSDE’s website, www.ksde.org

Kelly announced Wednesday that she also intends to issue an executive order to make some of the guidance from the KSDE mandatory in schools.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, the order will include requirements related to masks, social distancing, hygiene and daily temperature checks.

Members of the Leavenworth Board of Education plan to have a special meeting July 27 to discuss the district’s plan for reopening schools.

Roth plans to provide an update to parents the following day.

“We know that there is no replacement for in-person interactions with the members of our Pioneer family,” Roth wrote in his statement posted Wednesday. “We also totally respect that many might not feel comfortable yet with the thought of going back to school and/or work, while others need more detailed answers before they can make sound decisions for themselves and their loved ones.”

Lansing Board of Education President John D. Dalbey Sr. released a statement Thursday regarding the reopening of school.

The statement was posted on the Lansing school district’s website.

Dalbey stated that Lansing public schools will not necessarily begin classes Sept. 8, which is the day after Labor Day.

“September 8th is the earliest day currently allowed by Gov. Kelly,” Dalbey wrote. “We will start school based upon conditions, not time.”

He wrote that school board members provided guidance to Lansing Superintendent Dan Wessel earlier this week.

Dalbey wrote that board members have provided direction that “putting kids back into school face to face with their teachers is the priority and that we should do that in the safest way possible.”

According to a message posted on the Facebook page for the Basehor-Linwood school system, officials in that district plan to provide information early next week regarding a timeline for the release of a reopening plan.

Members of the Basehor-Linwood’s Strategic Reopening Committee were meeting Wednesday afternoon when Kelly made an announcement about delaying the start of the school year.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR