Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Because of a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Leavenworth County area, the Unified School District 207 school board approved the recommendation of Keith Mispagel, superintendent of schools, to transition all district students to a remote learning plan Nov. 30 through Dec. 18 and Jan. 4-8 during a special board meeting Nov. 18 at the district office.
A more detailed outline of the plan was discussed during the regular board meeting Nov. 23 at the board office.
“We have not had a student to student, student to staff, staff to student or staff to staff issue of COVID within the schools. We have maintained a very manageable and what I would consider a small percentage of students out,” Mispagel said. “Our numbers are good … so why would I recommend remote? Because we’re one spread, quarantine, cluster away from not having the ability to have staff in the school.
“I didn’t want to try to continue to fight the exponential increase of the spread of the pandemic while our numbers were good, so I felt the risk was not of benefit to the district, the students or staff in regard to trying to fight it just to stay in school,” he said. “I really want us to be in school. We have done an amazing job. Our staff has really done an amazing job with safety measures…but it was a risk at the height we’re seeing lately with no potential for decrease with something we could potentially lose the balance we have.”
The period of remote learning will apply to all students in the district except students whose parents are full-time employees of the school district. Those students will attend school in-person, in a separate area to be designated by each building principal and all safety precautions will be observed.
To accommodate students currently enrolled at the Child Development Center whose parents were already deemed essential employees by their units, the Osage CDC will be open for those students to participate in remote learning. CDC staff were trained on the remote learning plan Nov 24 and will supervise those students.
Students are scheduled to return to in-person classes Jan. 11.
The school district will grant semester credit to transitioning families who depart after Dec. 7, 2020, or after May 10, 2021.
“Each year, we have families that, due to mobility either moving in or moving out, require credit when they go to the next duty station,” Mispagel said. “A student must attend up to the last Friday, which is two weeks prior to the semester or schoolyear in December or May.”
All district buildings will be closed Dec. 21-25.
After hours on Dec. 18, all lights will be shut off and the heat will be lowered, with the exception of MacArthur Elementary School, which runs on a geothermal system.
During the meeting, Tyler Fowler, MacArthur principal, updated the board about programs and other initiatives happening at the school.
The report included an update on staff changes, the “Learn. Lead. Achieve.” Initiative, the Leader in Me program, Site Council and safety measures being practiced because of COVID-19.
Board members and other essential personnel practiced social distancing and wore face coverings during the board meeting.
All board meetings are open to the public. For an overview of the meeting and the minutes, visit https://www.boarddocs.com/ks/usd207/Board.nsf/Public.
The next USD 207 board meeting is at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the board office.