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May 28th, 2022

all day kindergarten fileStudents work on an activity during school. Tuesday saw the announcement from Gov. Laura Kelly that all K-12 school buildings will be closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year due to concerns with the coronavirus situation. L&T file photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

After much consideration and discussion, the state of Kansas announced Tuesday all K-12 school buildings will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly made the announcement in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, and further information was available in a statement from the Kansas Department of Education.

“Unprecedented circumstances that threaten the safety of our students and the professionals who work with them every day require swift, thoughtful and coordinated action. Gov. Laura Kelly announced school buildings across the state must be closed for the duration of this school year for the purpose of general student and staff attendance. However, learning will continue for Kansas students,” the statement noted. “A 25-member task force comprised of many of the state’s top educators in Kansas continues working to develop plans for Continuous Learning. The task force will deliver their recommendations to Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson by Wednesday evening. Kansas education is among the finest in the country. Closing classrooms and moving to a Continuous Learning plan can’t begin to replicate our state’s education structure as we know it, but it can help ensure strategies that will provide a bridge back to the world-class learning our students benefit from today.”

USD 480 Superintendent Renae Hickert also sent out a statement, saying USD 480 administration is working diligently on the situation. 

“This will place tremendous hardship on our families and staff, and impact the social and emotional well-being of our students,” Hickert’s statement noted. “Although the schools are officially closed, our staff is working on how to continue learning opportunities for students. Details will be made available sometime next week. Our staff and board of education are also working on other critical issues, such as what this means for our seniors, how this will impact next school year and what impact this will have on our employees. We will provide updates on these issues as soon as the information is available. We are committed to working together as a community to support one another throughout these unprecedented times, and communication will remain a top priority. Updates will be shared via our website/app, Facebook, Twitter and local media outlets. As a reminder, this school closure is in response to the current public health crisis. The focus should remain on preventing the spread the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is also referred to.”

Hickert also reiterated meals will be available for students throughout the chutdown. Meals are available Monday through Friday from 12 to 1 p.m. at 840 N. Washington, 615 Warren, 1500 E. Bluebell, 2145 Ramey Road, 108 S. Pershing, 404 S. New York, 710 S. Western, 215 S. Western, 700 N. Jordan, 1002 E. 2nd Street, and 1200 N. Calvert. Meals will also be served from 12 to 12:30 p.m. at 1000 Balboa and 310 W. Pine, and from 12:30 to 1 p.m. at 821 Millwood Circle and 950 S. Grant. 

Meetings will also take place at the state level to assess further action, the KSDE statement noted. 

“Essential staff members – as determined by local district officials – may be needed through Friday, March 20, to assess and prepare for facility maintenance,” the statement noted. “While schools are closed, administrative offices and support facilities may remain open as needed. Once buildings are thoroughly sanitized, they will be able to reopen for small groups of school personnel to implement a plan for Continuous Learning. We realize this is a difficult time, but Kansans always have persevered - and we will continue to do so. We will work together to get through this, and we will overcome this challenge and emerge stronger.”

Hickert mentioned further advice for people as the virus continues. 

“Please be mindful of the following: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing (i.e. cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue), please keep sick children at home, avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms, and follow additional guidance from these sources: National Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE),” Hickert’s statement noted.