Leavenworth school board approves reopening plan

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

The first day of classes for the Leavenworth public schools will be Aug. 24. And during the first two weeks of school, only half of the student body will be in the school buildings at any one time.

That is according to a plan that was approved Monday by the Leavenworth Board of Education.

Following Labor Day, all students will be allowed to attend school at the same time.

The district also will offer options for students who do not wish to return to school buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the first two weeks of school, one-half of the student body will attend classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. The other half will attend classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Teachers will have professional development on Fridays.

Sept. 8, which is the day after Labor Day, also will be used for professional development. All students will be able to attend classes at the same time beginning Sept. 9.

Students and staff members will be required to wear masks at the schools. They also will have their temperatures checked when they arrive at school each day.

Leavenworth Superintendent Mike Roth said the first two weeks will give students the opportunity to refamiliarize themselves with the school buildings.

“We haven’t seen kids for six months,” Roth said.

In March, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly ordered schools across the state to close in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Students completed the school year through remote learning.

There recently was some question as to when classes for the 2020-2021 school would begin. Kelly issued an executive order to prevent classes from starting before Labor Day. But that order was blocked by the Kansas State Board of Education.

Roth said the first two weeks of the school year in the Leavenworth district also will give staff members the opportunity to test the new protocols that are being put in place because of the pandemic.

“We felt it would be better to ease into the school year,” he said.

One of the changes being made at the Leavenworth public schools concerns how meals are served. Meals will be served in what district officials refer to as a “grab and go” style. Students will eat their meals in classrooms or other areas that allow spacing between students.

Normal water fountain heads have been disabled. But devices that fill water bottles will still be operational.

Roth said the bottle fillers operate by sensors and are “non-touch.” Students will be encouraged to bring water bottles to school.

For parents who do not feel comfortable returning their children to school buildings, the district is offering a couple of options.

One is the existing Leavenworth Virtual School program which is available for children in kindergarten through the eighth grade.

The district also will be offering what is being referred to as rigorous remote instruction. This system of instruction will require parents to submit weekly activity logs.

The Virtual School and rigorous remote instruction each require a semester-long commitment.

Roth said the district also will have a hybrid system that can be used as needed. He said this will allow students to temporarily receive remote instruction if, for example, they have to be quarantined. They then can return to school buildings.

“The hybrid gives flexibility based on what we’re experiencing at the time,” he said.

Lansing Superintendent Dan Wessel said members of the Lansing Board of Education discussed a reopening plan for that district during a special meeting Monday. But a plan has not yet been approved.

Board members plan to meet again Thursday, and a vote may be taken at that time.

Wessel said board members have approved a calendar for the academic year.

According to the calendar, Lansing students in kindergarten through the sixth grade will begin classes Sept. 9. This also will be the first day of classes for students who are new to Lansing Middle School and Lansing High School including all of the ninth-graders.

Classes will begin for all other Lansing students Sept. 10.

Members of the Basehor-Linwood Board of Education have approved a reopening plan for that district. The vote came Monday during a special board meeting, according to Ashley Razak, communications coordinator for the district.

Details of the plan were released last week. The plan offers three options for students – on-site learning, rigorous remote instruction and virtual school instruction.

The Basehor-Linwood school board also approved delaying the start of the school year until Sept. 8.

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