Lansing board rejects hybrid model

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

During a special meeting, Lansing school board members voted to move forward with the school reopening plan they previously approved. And they excluded an additional hybrid instruction model from their plans.

The vote came as members of the Lansing Board of Education met Monday evening.

As school officials prepare to begin fall classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents have been offered the choice of signing up their children for in-person instruction or remote instruction.

As part of a plan approved by board members last month, students who are signed up for in-person instruction will still have remote instruction one day per week and attend classes four days a week in the school buildings.

Classes in the Lansing public schools are scheduled to start Sept. 9.

For Monday’s meeting, board members were presented an updated reopening plan that included what was referred to as a blended learning, or hybrid, plan.

Under this plan, one-half of the students signed up for in-person instruction would attend classes in school buildings two days a week. The other half of the students would be in school buildings on two separate days of the week. On days the students are not receiving in-person instruction, they would utilize remote instruction.

School officials proposed the district could switch from the four days a week of in-person instruction to the hybrid plan based on conditions related to COVID-19 cases in the community as well as absenteeism in individual school buildings.

These conditions were laid out in proposed gating criteria that also were presented to board members Monday. The proposed gating criteria utilized color coded categories, green, yellow, orange and red.

Under the proposed gating criteria, the county’s positive COVID-19 test rate would place schools in the yellow category, which calls for the use of the hybrid plan.

“We’re in a solid yellow right now,” Superintendent Dan Wessel told board members.

Board President John Dalbey Sr. said about 80% of the families in the school district want their children to have in-person instruction.

“These parents love their kids more than anybody in this room,” he said.

He said the parents are willing to accept the risk to their children that in-person instruction may present.

“At the end of the day, the Board of Education works for the people of Lansing,” Dalbey said.

Dalbey expressed a reluctance to change the reopening plan after parents already have started registering their children.

He also expressed concern about the impact the hybrid model would have on the district’s youngest students.

Board member Cheryl Runnebaum expressed concern that parents may have difficulty finding and paying for day care services if the district switches to a hybrid model.

“I think we need to get kids back in school,” she said.

Board member Beth Stevenson said she does not know if parents signed up for in-person instruction thinking board members would ignore health recommendations.

Board members ended up approving a motion to exclude the hybrid model from the district’s reopening plan. The vote was 4-3 with board members Stevenson, John Hattok and Michelle McQuillan voting against the motion.

Board members also voted to have district personnel revise the proposed gating criteria without a hybrid model.

They plan to review the updated gating criteria during a special meeting Thursday evening, according to Wessel.

The Leavenworth County Health Department has provided recommendations to local school districts regarding gating criteria.

Leavenworth County Health Officer Jamie Miller, who attended Monday’s school board meeting, said he plans to meet with the county’s school superintendents today to review updated recommendations.

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