Governor Laura Kelly today announced her recommendation to close all public schools for the upcoming week to allow administrators and teachers to develop a strategic plan moving forward. At the direction of the Governor, the Kansas State Board of Education formed a team tasked with addressing key concerns.
This recommendation will not impact either the Wichita or Kansas City Kansas Public Schools who were to be closed this upcoming week for Spring Break. Topeka Public Schools has already announced school closures through March 29.
According to the USD 259 website, Education Commissioner Randy Watson has committed to Kansas school districts that they would know by Wednesday or Thursday what the statewide plan will be going forward.
“We take this pandemic and our preparedness seriously,” Kelly said. “One of these areas of particular concern is our K-12 schools, where our children, parents and staff come together in one place. Our schools form the cornerstones of our communities. It is because of this that we need to ensure that schools are prepared to face the COVID-19 challenge.
“When classes resume, parents can be assured their children will continue to receive the same high-quality, world-class education Kansas is known for,” Kelly said.
The Kansas State Board of Education has formed a team of experts, many of whom are former Teachers of the Year, to build a comprehensive plan to address the challenges that schools are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the specific topics this team will address are:
How schools can move education online, if necessary, so students can progress toward the end of semester.
How schools can assist students who do not have access to online tools to finish out the semester, especially those who are set to graduate in May.
How schools can provide for at-risk students and those who have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
How schools will ensure a continuity of school-based mental health services.
How schools can assist in providing meals for students who need them.
What role schools can play in assisting with childcare for essential local and state healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers who live in their counties.
How schools will assist in efforts to keep children from congregating in community spaces and keep them quarantined in their own homes.
And educating parents on ways they can help the continuity of education for their children.
Governor Kelly continues to work closely with the Kansas State Department of Education and Kansas Department of Health and Environment, along with local and federal partners to develop sensible steps that can protect every Kansan.
“Let me remind Kansans once again: while everyone needs to be mindful of what they can do to avoid spreading the virus — namely thorough hand washing, social distancing and avoiding crowds — this is not a time to panic,” Kelly said. “It is a time to be aware of the need to be very careful. It is a time to be respectful of others who are vulnerable. And, it is a time to use common sense safety measures. This remains the best defense against COVID-19.”