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.