Leavenworth schools reopening plan could change

John Richmeier

Reopening plans for the Leavenworth public schools could change following a Sept. 3 special school board meeting.

Students will return to school next week as planned. For the first two weeks, one-half of the students who have signed up for in-person instruction will attend classes on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other half will be in the schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

District officials have been planning to allow all students to attend classes five days a week following Labor Day. But members of the Leavenworth Board of Education could change the plans for post-Labor Day during the Sept. 3 special meeting.

Board members voted to schedule the special meeting when they met Wednesday.

After the school board approved a reopening plan last month, district officials have received guidance for what is referred to as “gating criteria.”

The Leavenworth County Health Department has provided guidance to local schools regarding the types of instruction, in-person, remote only and hybrid, that is appropriate based on various conditions related to COVID-19 cases in the county.

Superintendent Mike Roth said the Kansas State Department of Education has provided its own gating criteria to schools. He said “there’s a lot of different models out there.”

He said the criteria are recommendations, not requirements.

Having a special meeting on Sept. 3 will allow board members to evaluate conditions following the first week of school.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the school district’s administrative office, 200 N. Fourth St.

“We’re going to try to give them options to consider,” Roth said.

In addition to in-person classes, school district officials have given parents the option of remote only instruction for their children as well as enrollment in the Leavenworth Virtual School.

Roth said during Wednesday’s meeting that about 70% of students enrolled in the district have been signed up for in-person instruction.

Roth said current enrollment for Leavenworth public schools is 342 students less than what district officials had been anticipating.

Enrollment numbers may still improve. Roth said it is not uncommon for additional students to be enrolled between the first day of school and Labor Day.

Roth blames the decrease in enrollment at least in part on uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also Wednesday, board members voted to not allow outside organizations to use the school district’s facilities, at least during the fall semester, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ll reevaluate where we’re at as a community during the semester break,” Roth said.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR