20-21 School Year Delayed Until September 2020

20-21 School Year Delayed Until September 2020

Like many of you, I am ready for our students and staff to be back in Leavenworth Schools.  We know that there is no replacement for in-person interactions with the members of our Pioneer family.  We also totally respect that many might not feel comfortable yet with the thought of going back to school and/or work, while others need more detailed answers before they can make sound decisions for themselves and their loved ones.      

This afternoon, Governor Laura Kelly announced Executive Orders that will become official on Monday, July 20, delaying the start of the 20-21 school year until after Labor Day in September.  There will also be mandatory orders specific to masking/face coverings, social distancing, handwashing hygiene, and daily temperature checks.  Specific language and details on these orders are not yet known at this time.  

Earlier today, the Kansas State Board of Education officially approved guidance provided to all Kansas school districts by the Department of Education for the 20-21 academic year.  The document is housed on the KSDE website and can be accessed at: https://www.ksde.org/Teaching-Learning/Resources/Navigating-Change-Kansas-Guide-to-Learning-and-School-Safety-Operations

Within the constraints of the 1,100 page document provided by KSDE, we are planning for scenarios to support a traditional school environment with additional safeguards and precautions in place.  These scenarios will include an online instructional delivery model to serve students with higher health risks at home.  Based on current public health conditions, it is entirely possible that students and staff may spend time fluctuating between a traditional and online setting in the event of direct contact to a positive COVID-19 test, recommended 14-day quarantines, etc.  We want these transitions to be as seamless as possible to minimize instructional delays.  Our preference is to maximize in-person learning opportunities, but make necessary adjustments to support remote learning when necessary.  These decisions will not be taken lightly, and will be made in collaboration with our Leavenworth Board of Education, Kansas State Department of Education, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and Leavenworth County Department of Health.  

District administration will continue to work towards planning specific to Leavenworth Schools, including all aspects of the various learning options that will be provided to students, in addition to specific adjustments that will be required to keep our students and staff safe as we resume in-person activities. While we are anxious for a return to normal as quickly as possible, we are also mindful that in order to avoid potential spread of Coronavirus that all aspects of the school day (e.g. transportation, arrival/dismissal, breakfast/lunch, classroom configuration, schedules and transitions, etc.) will need to be adjusted for current public health conditions.  We may also be required to make contingency plans to operate with a reduced building capacity with hopes of avoiding intermittent closures for an entire building.  None of the proposed changes will be ideal, and will each be subject to criticism, but they will be made with the safety of our students and staff as our top priority.   

Today’s announcement from the Governor of Kansas was not expected, yet, we must all remain continuously flexible to the most current information specific to the overall health of our community and state.  Leavenworth USD 453 will use the opportunity provided by the delayed start of the 20-21 school year to actively plan for the safe return of students and staff in September.  

What’s next:

• Please visit “Enroll” under “Families” at www.usd453.org if you have not already, to enroll your student(s) for the 20-21 school year.  All enrollment activities are being conducted on-line and will be required if you wish to receive educational services from Leavenworth USD 453.

• Look for Staff & Parent/Guardian surveys to be distributed later next week - please provide your direct input at that time to help us guide our decision making.

• Next scheduled update: Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

Thank you for your continued support of Leavenworth students, and for your willingness to partner with us to prepare our students for success.

Proud to be a Pioneer,

Mike Roth