WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita Board of Education held a special meeting Friday to discuss the rapid increase in coronavirus cases in Sedgwick County.
USD 259 released the following statement on its Twitter account Friday evening once board members voted on the decision: “The BOE has voted to affirm the Oct. 20 adoption of the blended Onsite/ My School Remote model for High school and middle school, and that the current Onsite My School Remote model continue for elementary school during the same period.
This would begin Nov. 12 for the second nine weeks and the BOE will review this data again at the Nov. 9 meeting. Motion passed 4-3.”
The main reason for the change in start date is because the BOE will be meeting with doctors who created the gating criteria Nov. 9.
“I doubt that anything will change but it could and so we did not believe that it was fair to bring students back on (Nov. 9) and then on the 10th say, ‘Whoops, we’ve changed our mind,'” Sheril Logan, President of the Board said.
United Teachers of Wichita President, Kimberly Howard, brought up concerns from teachers at the meeting.
Howard says teachers are feeling disappointed with the vote, “They don’t feel like they’re supported or that their health matters. They’re scared for their safety. They’re scared for their family’s safety and bringing home the virus.”
As of noon Thursday, Sedgwick County is reporting 182 new cases, bringing the county’s total to 11,527.
USD 259 Superintendent Alicia Thompson sent a message to teachers about the meeting Thursday:
“As this key indicator approaches the 15%+ positive point for its two-week average, we must plan for the possibility that the health of our community will once again impact how we will educate our students,” she wrote.
She said there are some important things to note:
- At the present time, we continue to plan for the learning model that the Wichita Board of Education approved on Oct. 20.
- We are also planning for the potential transition to full remote learning for all students grades PreK-12, in the event that we exceed the 15%+ positive indicator.
BOE President Sheril Logan requested the special meeting.
The meeting will be held in the North High Lecture Hall, 1437 Rochester.
Because of the state’s coronavirus guidelines for meetings, the public will not be able to attend. But the BOE meeting will be shared on USD259.org, WPS-TV on Cox Channel 20, or by searching WPS-TV on the Livestream app for phone, Roku, and Apple TV.
USD 259 Superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson shared the following message with parents Thursday:
“As COVID indicators in Sedgwick County rise, I’m reaching out to provide additional information on the challenging place we find our district in as we continue to provide educational opportunities to Wichita students. As this key indicator approaches the 15%+ positive point for its two-week average, we must plan for the possibility that the health of our community impacts how we will educate your students.
Several things are important to note:
- At the present time, we continue to plan for the learning model that the Wichita Board of Education approved on Oct. 20 (https://www.usd259.org/WPSreturn)
- We are also planning for the potential transition to full remote learning for all students in grades PreK-12, in the event that we exceed the 15%+ positive indicator. It is important to note that if a full remote transition is required, all families will need to be prepared with a child care plan for their students. Please understand that learning will continue regardless of where it occurs! We want to make sure you have ample time to have a plan available in the event a full remote transition is required.
- No matter what decisions are made by our Board of Education, we are required by state and federal special education laws to provide a student with a disability who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), while following any applicable requirements from local and state health officials. A student’s IEP team may decide that a student should be served onsite, if that is what is needed for them to receive FAPE, even if the district makes a decision to transition to full remote learning. Parents with questions can contact their student’s school.
Our Board of Education will hold a special BOE meeting this Friday (10/30) at 4:30pm in the North High lecture hall. The purpose will be to discuss the rapid increase in COVID cases in Sedgwick County, and consider appropriate action based on their discussion. If action is taken on Friday, we will send an update to you Friday evening.
Our Board of Education and our district leaders recognize the heaviness of the decisions that must be made in order to safely provide quality educational opportunities for the 47,000+ students we educate. We understand the impact of decisions on your work, our families, our business community – and most important, our students. We will continue to monitor and be transparent in the data we share, and make the best-possible decisions with the information we have at the time decisions must be made.
As COVID continues to impact every aspect of our lives, it is important now more than ever to show ourselves and one another patience, grace and flexibility. I would also add kindness, as sadly we have seen kind-hearted individuals lash out on social media and in other forums as this stress continues to impact lives and livelihoods. We must come TOGETHER in order to help our children make it through this difficult time in their young lives!
Please continue to wash your hands, practice social distancing, and mask up!”
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