June 18, 2021

Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services

 

 

March 24, 2021

As you may be aware, Dickinson County recently revised the mask mandate and moved it from a requirement to a recommendation to wear a mask in Dickinson County.  They based the discussion on the current case count, the downward trend of cases in the county and across the state.  The revision did not specifically address masks in schools in Dickinson County so that decision will be made at the local level.  As we announced prior to our return from Spring Break, we will still be requiring masks in USD 473.  We understand that everyone is tired of wearing masks and would love to get rid of them at this point, but we have to take other matters under consideration before we no long require masks.

 

I want to provide some of the reasons why we feel this is the appropriate to require masks in USD 473.

 

  1. We still do not have vaccines for all of the staff who want to be immunized. Our final group will be vaccinated this week and then there is a two or three week time frame for those to become effective.  We do not want to expose out staff to unnecessary dangers if they can be avoided.  By requiring masks, we can mitigate some of the risk to our students, staff and community.

 

  1. The use of masks will help reduce the number of students and staff who will be subject to quarantine. There are high risk exposures and low risk exposures and the wearing of masks puts our students and staff in the low-risk exposure group if there is a positive case in the district.  The low-risk criteria are when there has been a positive case, but both the patient and others were wearing masks and may or may not have been able to social distance. In this case, the individual circumstances are considered prior to any quarantine of students or staff and may eliminate the need for a quarantine.   If they were not wearing a mask, this same situation then becomes a high-risk exposure and subject to more stringent quarantine guidelines.

 

  1. Last year, we had to drastically alter our school year and we do not want to do that again this year. If we see an increase in case counts, we could see additional measures implemented which could impact our ability to have our end of the year celebrations.  We want our students to be able to enjoy spring sports and activities, prom and graduation and we feel like requiring masks increases our chances of having these events.

 

We hope that you understand that we are doing what we feel is best for our students and staff. I do not expect everyone to agree with whether we wear masks or not but hopefully, you can appreciate the fact that we are doing what we feel keeps our students and staff safe.

 

 

 

Modified School Quarantine

Update from the DK Health Department – Modified School Quarantine

 

General Information for Fan Attendance

●  All spectators must wear a mask properly (over mouth and nose) the entire time in the facility, even if they are socially distanced.

●  USD 473 will allow attendance of up to two Parents/Guardians per participant in the following activities.

  • Basketball/Wrestling Players/Coaches
  • Student Managers
  • Cheer Squad/Coach
  • Dance Team/Coach
  • Pep Band/Director
  • Student Journalists

●  Patrons are expected to pay or show their respective pass even if they are on the pass list.

●  Limited concessions will be available.

 

Seating Instructions

● Parents are there to support their child while in competition. We ask that you only attend the game/level your child is participating in each night.

  • Ex: If your child only plays varsity girls, we would ask that you leave upon completion of that contest. If your child only plays varsity boys, please show up at 7:30 pm for the start of that contest. If your child plays multiple levels, you may watch both games they are actively participating in.

●  We ask that you stay in the gym of the level your child is playing to limit travel between the District and Middle School gyms.

●  Seating areas are: District Gym – North side Home Fans; South side Upper section Visiting Fans; Team overflow area in Upper West side section.

●  MS Gym – East side Home fans; West side Visiting fans.

●  Bleachers are marked with Black Tape. Please find the marks and sit in family units.

●  No substitutes for Parent/Guardian if they are unable to attend.

 

Live-stream

●  For those fans unable to attend in-person, games will be live streamed.

●  Both Gyms will be broadcast.

●  USD 473 YouTube

 

Game Schedules

●  HS Basketball – 4:30 JV Boys/Girls | 6:00 V Girls/FR Boys | 7:30 V Boys/FR Girls

●  HS Wrestling 5:00 – Double Duals | 6:30 Duals | JV matches; Followed by Varsity

●  MS Basketball Schedule – 4:30 7B/8B Games | 5:30 7A/8A Games

 

First Semester Reflection

 

I would like to thank you and your family for your support of our school district while we
navigate these unprecedented times during the COVID_19 pandemic. I want to take a moment
to reflect on the first semester of the 2020-21 school year. This has been a year like no other in
schools across the nation. We have had to address things we would never have dreamed about
even a few years ago. We were not trained to teach during a pandemic but the teachers across
the nation and specifically in USD 473 have risen to the challenge. I want to share some of the
changes we have encountered during the first semester.

 

Professional Development:

We moved our start of school for students to August 26 th . The teachers still reported to the
buildings on August 17 th . During these 7 days the teachers spent time revising the daily lessons
and delivery models to prepare for the possibility that we would have to move to a remote
learning environment as a building or a district. We actually have students in almost every
grade in every building that are attending school remotely and this was a totally new concept
for our staff and the students. This is not something teachers were prepared to encounter
when they went to college. Every system and structure we have in place was developed and
implemented with students and teachers working face to face, so this was a radical change to
our entire program. I don’t know of another business that could completely revamp their
entire business model in 7 days. We spent a large amount of our professional development
learning to use new programs such as Google classroom, SeeSaw and Zoom.

 

Mitigation Efforts:

We also implemented new cleaning protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID in our
buildings. We have asked each teacher to clean the desks between classes at the MS and HS
level. We also clean high traffic areas multiple times a day to help stop the spread. I never
imagined that we would be buying hand sanitizer and disinfecting solution like we are doing at
this point. We have hired additional staff to clean during the day and also after class. We are
disinfecting every classroom every night while other districts may only do this once a week or
less frequently. We are taking these extra precautions to try to keep the students in our
buildings as much as possible. Before school started, we had our local health official tour every
building and every classroom to provide additional suggestions to help mitigate the spread of
COVID. As a result of these tours, we rearranged the physical layouts of classrooms and in
some cases, actually moved entire classes into new rooms to provide as much social distancing
as possible. We revised our lunch schedules to get the groups small enough that we could
socially distance during lunch. That may not sound like a big deal but every schedule in a
building is built around the lunch times so when you change those it impacts everything in a
building. Our lunch program serves about 1200 people every day so a minor change can have a
huge impact in their program. When we moved to remote learning our school lunch staff
continue to provide meals for the students. In some cases, those meals are picked up at the
building but other times we have delivered those meals to the house to make sure our students
get meals every day. We have utilized custodial staff, aides and bus drivers to get these meals
delivered.
We also installed infrared temperature monitors in each building. We understand that not
everyone will have a temperature due to COVID, but we also understand that someone with a
temperature should not be in school. We were able to work with our vendor to get these
installed before school so we could start using them on the first day of school in all 6 buildings.

 

Daily schedules:

We moved to a block schedule at the MS and HS to limit the number of cohort groups on a
given day. This also limited the amount of time the kids would be in the hallways at one time.
This is a major change for the buildings, but our staff have responded to the challenge and are
making this work for the students.
We also altered the arrival and dismissal times in each building to allow for more flexibility in
meeting the state requirement of 1116 hours. It’s always a struggle to completely alter your
profession but it’s even more difficult when you are asked to implement new and innovative
ways to teach within rules and regulations that have not changed for decades.

 

Working with local Health Office:

We are working more closely with our local health department than anytime in history. We rely
on them to give us the most up to date information concerning the spread of COVID. We
understand that our students may be asymptomatic carriers of COVID. This means that they
have COVID but don’t realize it. This is a huge concern for the schools because these students
will come to school and expose other students and staff to COVID, and they don’t even realize
it. If you are a person with underlying health conditions this exposure can be life threatening.
We have regular scheduled meetings to discuss the case counts, the most recent research
available and also try to predict what the future holds. Our school nurse, Tara Tiernan, has
been at the forefront of the battle against COVID. She works with the health department to get
students and staff tested, follows up if they have to quarantine and makes reports to the health
department about our individual situation. She does not get to choose who gets tested or
quarantined but she often gets blamed for that when she contacts parents. Trust me, she
doesn’t want to call you any more than you want to hear from her, but she does it to ensure
the safety of our community.

 

Health Professionals:

We all need to take a moment and thank the health professionals in our area. They are putting
in more hours than ever before and often times they get taken for granted. It’s easy for some of
us to overlook all the work that they do in our community. This virus has pushed them to their
limits and we need to take a moment and thank them for all they are doing. We also need to
do everything we can to help them in the battle against COVID-19. We are all in this together
and everyone needs to follow the advice from CDC, KDHE, and Dickinson County Health
Department, wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance.

 

 

November 18, 2020

 

The decision to move to a remote setting is never an easy decision to make and we know it impacts everyone in a different way because each situation is different.  We were given a recommendation from the Dickinson County Health Director to move to a remote setting for students in grades 6-12,  We got the recommendation from the Dickinson County Health department and also checked with our legal representative and we were told that we should follow the recommendation from the health department.  According to our attorney, HB 2016 and the statues on the authority of the county health departments gives the county health department all the decision making authority when it comes to contagious diseases.  They recommend that local schools follow the recommendation issued by their local health department.

 

We will move to remote learning beginning on November 30th through December 18th for grades 6-12, Chapman High School and Chapman Middle School. We will not be in session on November 20th (Friday) to allow staff the opportunity to plan for this transition.  During the next two days, we will be working with your students within the classrooms to prepare for remote learning.  Irish Athletics will resume no sooner than January 4th 2021. USD 473 Food Service will provide meals for remote learners and will communicate regarding logistics for distribution.

 

I know this is difficult on everyone involved and we want to make sure we are providing the safest environment possible for our teachers, students and staff.  I hope you can understand our perspective and appreciate the difficulty of these type of decisions.

Please see the Dickinson County Health Department Recommendations for Schools 11-20.

KASB Recommendations

 

 

November 13, 2020

 

As many of you are aware, COVID-19 cases in Dickinson County are continuing to increase. We
are monitoring our numbers closely and take this situation very seriously. We will work with
each family and school on a case-by-case basis and work through the challenges as they arise.
This situation changes very rapidly, and we often do not have much warning about a potential
outbreak. Please keep in mind that at any time, moving to remote learning for the district, an
individual building or individual classroom is always a possibility. We know that the best option
to educate our students is with the students in our classroom and face to face instruction is the
best method, but we have to keep everyone safe.

 

Across the state our hospitals are dealing with a very difficult situation. In addition to the
normal patient load, they are seeing large numbers of COVID patients that also need
hospitalization. Some hospitals are no longer accepting referral patients due to a shortage of
space or staff. We need to do everything we can to help stop the spread of the COVID virus, so
we are asking that our community partner with us in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The mitigation strategies implemented in our schools are only effective if these same strategies
are utilized outside of our schools. I know this is information you already know but I think it’s
worth repeating;

  • Please wear a mask
  • Wash your hand frequently or use hand sanitizer if hand washing stations are not
    available
  • Keep your hands away from your face
  • Practice social distancing. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • Avoid mass gatherings
  • Clean surfaces regularly
  • Stay home if you are sick or if you have cold/flu like symptoms

If you or someone in your family is contacted because they need to be quarantined, please
understand that the person contacting is just trying to keep everyone safe. Please be respectful
and polite to the person contacting you. They are following the established guidelines and are
only doing their job.

 

Thank you for your continued support as we work together to keep our students, staff and
community as safe as possible throughout this pandemic

 

Blue Ridge Elementary School Parents,

Due to confirmed positive COVID cases within the third grade, after consulting the
Dickinson County Health Department, we feel it is best to quarantine the class.  We ask
that Blue Ridge parents monitor their students for symptoms.  The third grade class will
begin remote learning on November 12th through November 17th.  The class will be
able to return to school on November 18th.  If any parent within the third grade class
has questions and/or concerns with internet please contact the building administration,
Mrs. Afton Diehl.
We will remain in communication should there be any other concerns.

 

Thanks for your understanding,
Superintendent Hodson

 

 

Hazardous Weather Information

The winter season is upon us, and with it comes the possibility of inclement weather affecting school
opening.  We understand that our decision to open or close schools in bad weather has a big impact on
families.  The safety and security of our students and staff is our highest priority. Our district covers
almost 600 square miles and on a typical school day we have 1100 students entering our buildings. This
means that we also have 1100 students getting from home to school and we want to make sure they are
as safe as possible in that endeavor.

The decision to close schools is based on the best information available at the time the decision is made.
Although the staff and Superintendent do their best in this process, we know that often no perfect
decision exists.  IF WE ARE OPEN AND YOU DO NOT FEEL THAT IT IS SAFE FOR YOUR CHILD TO
ATTEND SCHOOL, THEN PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD. Please note the reason for absence
is the inclement weather. You can always wait until the bad weather passes and then bring your child to
school for the remainder of the day.

 

How do we make school closing decisions?

The decision to open or close the schools in bad weather is based on a careful analysis of all the relevant
factors, including:

  • Road conditions throughout the entire school district
    • Due to the size of the district the roads in your area may be fine but other areas of the
      district may have a significantly different set of conditions.
  • Amount of snow and ice
  • Whether precipitation is expected to continue
  • The future weather predications based on the most up to date forecast models (this may mean that we cancel school and the storm changes track and it may miss us)
  • Building conditions
  • Parking lot and sidewalk conditions at the schools
  • Temperatures and wind chill factors
  • Collaboration with surrounding school Superintendents

 

When is the decision made?

  • The decision is typically made by 6:00 AM (Earlier, if possible). We like to make the decision the
    night prior when possible to allow the parents to make the necessary arrangements for child care.

 

How is the public notified?

  • If you have registered for notifications from Powerschool, you will be notified by a phone call, text
    or email from USD 473, using the Powerschool calling system.
  • The order of notifications will be:
    • Powerschool alerts will be contacted first
    • USD 473 Facebook page will be the second contact
    • Local media outlets will be the third contact (KJCK, KSAL, KABI, KSAJ, KSN TV 3,
      KWCH Channel 12 and WIBW channel 13
  • If you want to know if we are in session, starting late or dismissing early, please view our
    Facebook page for the most up to date information

 

What Can You Do?

Be prepared! When weather is threatening the night before, please have plans for the possibility that
school may be closed.

 

 

October 14, 2020

 

PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES

As we progress through the first semester, please communicate with your child’s teacher or
principal if you notice any academic issues or have any questions or concerns. We will have
parent teacher conferences in October, but we will conduct these either over the phone or
using a Zoom meeting. The meetings are scheduled to occur between October 15 th and October
29 th . We have extended the window to provide more opportunities for you to spend time
visiting with your child’s teacher. If you are not contacted to schedule a time to visit with your
student’s teacher, please reach out to the teacher to schedule a time.

 

NO SCHOOL DATES

Just a reminder that are early release scheduled for October 19 th and 22 nd and no school on
October 23 rd .

 

INCLEMENT WEATHER AND OTHER NOTIFICATIONS

We will continue to utilize Swiftalert, a feature within PowerSchool, to inform parents of
important information such as school cancellations. We can use this system to send you a text,
a phone call or email. Please make sure your contact information is up to date in PowerSchool,
so you do not miss important information. Please have contact information for each mode of
communication in your PowerSchool account. If you have questions, please contact your
building and they can help you update your information.

 

STUDENT ILLNESS

If your student is not feeling well, please keep them at home. The cold and flu season is
approaching and often times the symptoms of a cold or flu also mirror COVID. The symptoms
for COVID-19 include: (Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus)

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • New loss of taste or smell

We need everyone to help us stop the spread of the COVID virus. Please wear facemasks when
in public, maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently and try to avoid large
crowds as much as possible.

 

 

October 1, 2020

 

We have appreciated your support during the first few weeks of school.  We have been focused on keeping our students and staff safe while providing the quality education you expect from USD 473.  We know that there have been bumps in the road but the students and staff have accepted the challenges that have been presented with the resilience that Chapman is known for.  I am extremely proud of our staff and students and the flexibility they have exhibited in these very uncertain times.  Having school during a pandemic is something that none of us have ever experienced so the learning curve is huge.  With your help and support we will overcome this pandemic.

 

PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES

As we progress through the first semester, please communicate with your child’s teacher or principal if you notice any academic issues or have any questions or concerns.  We will have parent teacher conferences in October but we will conduct these either over the phone or using a Zoom meeting.  The meetings are scheduled to occur between October 15th and October 29th.  We have extended the window to provide more opportunities for you to spend time visiting with your child’s teacher. 

 

COMMUNICATION

We strive to provide up to date information from each building.  If you have not been getting the SwiftAlert notifications (such as the recent school cancellation) please contact the school to let them know.   This is the districts primary means of communication with our parents and we put items on here before any other media is contacted.  Your child’s school may also be providing news letters to keep you up to date with the things that are happening in the building so please look for these coming home with your child.

 

COVID 

I reviewed the data that can be found on the KDHE website and looked at numbers that are specific to Dickinson County.  From September 21st until September 27th we had 66 new cases in Dickinson County.  Since close contacts are subject to quarantine, the number of people impacted is large.  If you assume that there are 5 people who are close contacts, that means that 330 people may be impacted.  When we had to transition to a remote learning environment for grades 6-12 it was due to the close contacts needing to be quarantined.  We simply did not have enough staff at the MS and HS to continue to have in person classes.  The MS and HS will provide remote learning opportunities until we resume classes on the morning of October 8th

In order for our classes to resume as scheduled, we are asking for your help.  If you are subject to quarantine, please stay home.  If you are not subject to quarantine, please wear a mask, wash your hands often and maintain social distancing.  In order to slow the spread of COVID, everyone has to help.  We will continue to communicate with the Dickinson County Health Director and other medical professionals to help us make the most informed decisions possible concerning the safety of our students and staff.

 

 

September 16th, 2020

 

We are well under way with the 2020-2021 school year.  After the first few weeks of school I want to take a moment to thank our teachers, staff, administrators and parents for all the hard work in getting us to this point.  I know that this was the most unusual start of school we have ever experienced.  It is great to see the students and teachers back in the classrooms in USD 473.  I want to thank the families for their patience and support as we navigate this new normal and continue to adjust our plans as necessary.  I understand that many of the changes have created some hardships on our parents, students, teachers and staff and we appreciate everyone’s support as we move forward. The experience we gained from the first few weeks of school will help us provide better instruction to our students who are in the classroom as well as those that are learning from home.

 

During Continuous Learning in the spring families with elementary students across the district encountered a challenge with digital device shortage.  Many parents had to share devices with multiple kids while still trying to work from home.  In an effort to help overcome some of these potential technology deficits we have purchased additional Chromebooks and Ipads for our students.  We have been a one to one chromebook district for grades 6-12 but with our recent purchase we are now also one to one with Ipads in grades K-5.   Our teachers have been working very hard to learn new programs that will allow easier access to resources in the classroom and from home.   In grades K-2, the teachers have been implementing SeeSaw, and in grades 3-12 they have been implementing Google classroom as well as other instructional platforms. These programs will allow the students to access information from the teacher from in the class and from home as needed.

 

On August 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released nine nationwide waivers extending the flexibilities for the Summer Food Service Programs and the Seamless Summer Option.  With these waivers, Sponsors can operate the Summer Food Service Program or the Seamless Summer Option through December 2020 or until Federal money is no longer available. USD 473 and all other school districts in the United States will temporarily serve meals free of charge to ALL students starting Sept 8th.  Please note that this program is temporary so families who have not reapplied for free and reduced lunches will still need to complete the application process. We still need families to complete the free and reduced application so it is in place when this program ends.

The Kansas State Department of Education on Monday eliminated the requirement that students and parents fill out daily activity logs for students who are learning remotely because of the pandemic.  KSDE officials said they heard a lot of complaints that because of closed schools and the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was too difficult to keep track of students’ time on lessons to fill out the logs, which had to be signed by the student and parent.

Under KSDE’s Navigating Change document, which has helped guide districts for the start of the 2020-21 school year, state funding for remote learning students is based on the number of hours in the student’s daily activity log. For a remote learning student to be funded as a full-time student, the student must participate in six hours of learning activity each day, which includes online and off-line learning.

But now, parents or guardians of students will only be required to sign a form assuring that they are doing the best they can to support their students’ ability to complete assigned work.