Kansas State Board of Education accepts school reopening guidance document

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Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 5:51 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas State Board of Education has accepted the school reopening guidance document announced in Governor Kelly’s news conference on Wednesday, July 15.

The Kansas State Board of Education says it accepted a guidance document developed to help schools reopen safely and deliver education through multiple learning environments the need arises.

KSBE says the document, titled “Navigating Change: Kansas’ Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations,” was developed entirely by Kansans and designed around two guiding questions:

  1. How do we keep students, educators and community members as safe as possible?
  2. How do we ensure each student is learning and being supported regardless of the learning environment?

KSBE says the comment contains guidance only, there are no mandates in it. It says this guidance provides districts the flexibility they need to meet the unique needs of students, educators and communities. According to the Board, districts will be able to utilize the portions that work best for them. What may work for a smaller district, may not work in a larger district.

The document addresses four main areas says the KSBE, competencies and standards, assessment, implementation and operations.

KSBE says the guidance document was developed because Kansas’ school districts face many different scenarios, especially around the start of the 2020-2021 school year, including parents who may not feel comfortable with their student or students returning to school and teachers who aren’t able to return to the classroom due to health risks.

According to the Board, the document will help districts develop avenues to ensure rigor and assessment regardless of the learning environment.

KSBE says the document outlines three primary learning environment options for schools to consider: in-person, hybrid and remote. It says based on recommendations from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, general guidelines for districts to consider when determining which environment should be implemented include:

  • Low restrictions: Utilize on-site learning when disease spread, as represented by the daily case rate of new cases by onset date, is low or on a steady decline.
  • Moderate restrictions: Utilize hybrid learning when disease spread, as represented by the daily case rate of new cases by onset date, is flat.
  • High restrictions: Utilize remote learning when disease spread, as represented by the daily case rate of new cases by onset date, has been increasing over four to six weeks or less as determined by the health department.

KSBE says districts will need the flexibility to navigate changing circumstances created by the pandemic. It says this includes schools needing to transition in and out of different learning environments, staffing fluctuations and more. According to the board, the guidance includes recommendations for implementing a competency-based approach to education.

The Board says Kansas teachers, administrators, service center employees, educational consultants and Kansas State Department of Education employees reviewed and analyzed current state educational standards and used them to develop a competency-based model for four grade bands, Pre-K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

KSBE says an Implementation Team reviewed the developed competencies and provided recommendations for how Kansas schools and educators can implement instructional models in a variety of environments, in-person, remote or hybrid learning environments. It says this team was comprised of teachers, parents, counselors, school psychologists, curriculum directors, library media specialists, state and local board members, legislators and educators in all content areas.

The Board also says at the same time, an Operations Team began developing guidance on how to reopen schools safely, everything from sanitation, facilities and transportation to foodservice and co-curricular activities. It says the Operations Team was comprised of teachers, school administrators, transportation directors, nurses, food service employees, state and local board members, business managers, county health officials and leaders from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

KSBE says the third phase of work included about 500 Kansas teachers and educators who advised the Board and KSDE on the professional development educators will need as a result of the guidance. KSDE says it is currently working with its education service centers and others to begin rolling out these educator pieces of training.

KSBE says the result is a comprehensive document designed to help facilitate district-level planning discussions as schools prepare to open.

To read Navigating Change in full visit the KSDE website.

Copyright 2020 WIBW. All rights reserved.

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