Lansing board approves gating criteria

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Lansing school board members have approved what is known as gating criteria for their district.

The gating criteria establishes thresholds based on Leavenworth County COVID-19 cases for determining when the district may switch from in-person instruction to remote instruction.

The gating criteria was approved Thursday during a special meeting of the Lansing Board of Education.

The vote was 4-3 with board members Beth Stevenson, John Hattok and Michelle McQuillan voting against the motion.

District officials have offered parents the choice of signing up their children for in-person instruction or remote only.

Classes in the Lansing school district are scheduled to start Sept. 9.

According to a previously approved reopening plan, students registered for in-person instruction will attend classes in school buildings four days a week and have one day of remote instruction each week.

The gating criteria approved by board members Thursday uses a two-color system, green and red, for determining what instruction model will be used.

When conditions as reported by the Leavenworth County Health Department place the Lansing school district in the green category, students will be able to participate in in-person instruction. But remote only instruction will be available to those who are signed up for it.

When conditions place the school district in the red category, all instruction will be delivered remotely.

The gating criteria that will be used is the two-week average positivity rate, a two-week incidence rate and the number of new cases per 100,000 people during a two-week period.

“It’s a countywide number,” Superintendent Dan Wessel said of the Health Department data. “It’s not a Lansing city number.”

The green category allows for a positivity rate of up to 10% and an incidence rate that is stable or decreasing. The green category would allow up to 200 new cases per 100,000 people for a two-week period.

Leavenworth County has a population of fewer than 100,000 people but the rate of new cases per 100,000 was recommended by the Health Department.

Wessel said district officials will look at data from the Leavenworth County Health Department each Monday for the purpose of making determinations according to the gating criteria. He said the district would be switched from the green category to the red only after two straight weeks of red conditions. And the district would switch back from the red to the green category only after two straight weeks of green conditions.

He said this will avoid switching back and forth from one instruction model to another each week.

He said parents would receive notice a week in advance before the district changes from one instruction mode to another.

Thursday’s vote to approve the gating criteria came after board members reviewed a different draft of gating criteria on Monday.

The earlier version of the gating criteria included a proposed hybrid model that could be used before switching entirely to remote instruction.

The hybrid model would have had one-half of the students signed up for in-person instruction attending classes in school buildings two days a week. The other half of the students would have been in school buildings on two separate days of the week. On days the students did not receive in-person instruction, they would have utilized remote instruction.

Board members voted Monday not to add the hybrid model to a school reopening plan they had previously approved. That motion was approved 4-3 with Stevenson, Hattok and McQuillan voting against it.

Board members also voted Monday to have the superintendent revise the gating criteria without the hybrid model.

Wessel presented the revised version of the gating criteria Thursday after the Leavenworth County Health Department had released its own updated guidance for gating criteria.

Leavenworth County Health Officer Jamie Miller met with local superintendents Wednesday to review the updated guidance.

Lansing board members heard Thursday from several audience members who objected to the earlier decision to not include a hybrid model in the district’s plans.

Stevenson and McQuillan also brought up the hybrid plan during Thursday’s meeting.

Board member Pete Robinson noted the district has given parents the option of in-school or remote instruction for their children. He said the district will allow parents who have selected in-person instruction to change their mind.

Wessel said people who have chosen in-person instruction can switch to remote only. But he said people who choose remote only are asked to remain in that instruction model.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR