Kansas school board to discuss state’s recommendations for reopening schools

Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas State Board of Education will meet on Tuesday to discuss the Kansas Department of Education’s recommendations for schools across Kansas to reopen.

With the end of summer just a month away, local schools are preparing for the return of students. Something the kids are looking forward to, according to Tim Hallacy, superintendent of Silver Lake Schools.

“Students struggle with the loss of structure and routine that comes with school attendance,” Hallacy said. “We have to bring them back to that. There is no better place for a child to be educated than in a classroom with a great teacher.”

Similar to many things, schools will look different this year.

The state’s department of education will give the resulting guidelines to the school board to vote on on Wednesday. This comes after they received feedback from superintendents and re-drafted the guidelines on ways for schools of all different areas and sizes to reopen.

“I think people are going to be saying here’s a range of things you need to consider, and then you are going to have to look at your local circumstances and be prepared to adapt,” said Mark Tallman, associate executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

The guidelines include changes for both the inside and outside of the school, such as keeping students separated during passing periods, lunch, recess and even in the classroom.

Before coronavirus, many teachers had students working together in groups at tables. However, that is something that will have to go.

The guidelines also touch on school buses, mask wearing and even limiting who enters a school.

“It’s spreading out people, reducing the size of groups, and reducing the contact,” Hallacy said. “What contact you do have, you have to make that safer. So there will be lots of small changes to the routine like that.”

The guidelines also touch on teaching methods for in-person and online classes, which schools will probably have to use a mixture of both in their teaching, Hallacy and Tallman said.

If the state board approves these guidelines, they will then go to all of the school districts in the state.

“As things that boards need to consider and evaluate, kind of based on their local circumstances, what’s happening in their county, what regulations there may be in place, and again what they’re hearing from staff, family, and students,” Tallman said.

These are all just recommendations, according to Tallman said. Schools still need to follow local rules and CDC guidelines.

KSNT News asked for a copy of these guidelines and were told they will not be available to the public until Thursday.

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