Lansing superintendent reviews process for closing schools during pandemic

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

While he is not planning to close schools, the Lansing superintendent said the district may have to close buildings in the future due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Dan Wessel said he has the authority to close schools for up to three days. But school board members would need to vote to close schools for longer periods and switch from in-person classes to only remote instruction because of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I hope we never have to do that,” Wessel said.

The issue came up when members of the Lansing Board of Education met this week.

Wessel likened closing a school for only a day or two because of a COVID-19 outbreak to having a snow day.

The superintendent said he may have to close a school for a short length of time because COVID-19 cases could result in a staffing shortage, making it impossible to safely educate students.

During Monday’s board meeting, Wessel recommended school officials continue to use the district’s gating criteria as a guide.

Board members previously approved the gating criteria, which lays out measurements related to Leavenworth County COVID-19 cases that can be taken into consideration for switching from in-person classes to only remote instruction.

Wessel said board members can base their discussion about whether to switch to remote instruction on the gating criteria. But he recommended not relying on one single criterion to make a change.

“My recommendation on the gating criteria is that we continue to use it as a guide,” he said.

If the district were to switch to only remote instruction, board members should follow the same process to determine when to return to in-person classes, Wessel said.

The superintendent said he does not want the district to oscillate between the instruction formats.

While a majority of students in the Lansing public schools are participating in in-person classes, some are signed up for only remote instruction.

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