Message from Lansing USD 469 School Board President
As you may have heard, Governor Kelly announced yesterday that Kansas schools, K-12 will not be allowed to open until after Labor Day, September 7th, 2020. The Kansas State Department of Education must still approve this measure in order for it to go into effect and this will be decided on Monday. Gov. Kelly stated that, "The additional three weeks will provide schools time to get masks, thermometers, hand sanitizer and other necessary COVID-19 mitigation supplies." In addition, this will allow for the Board of Education and district office staff and administrators to digest the order from the Kansas State Department of Education and use it to inform planning for AY 20-21. I am not stating that school will start in Lansing on September 8th. September 8th is the earliest day currently allowed by Gov. Kelly. We will start school based upon conditions, not time. We will start school, whatever that will look like, when Mr. Wessel reports that conditions are set to start school safely for the entire Pride.
On Monday, the Board of Education (BOE) issued planning guidance to Mr. Wessel. That guidance will/is informing how we will meet this opportunity as a combined team of the USD and the community and accomplish our mission to prepare children for their lives beyond high school. The BOE has directed that putting kids back into school face to face with their teachers is the priority and that we should do that in the safest way possible. I asked that our planning team eliminate their mental models and biases and "think outside of the box" to determine a solution that accomplishes our mission as safely as possible. Other options available to the planners are learning remotely and blended learning (combination of remote and face-to-face) but, nothing is off the table.
How each child learns based upon their age or ability level will also be taken into consideration. We have amazing teachers, gifted administrators, and dedicated support staff. We will do what is best for our kids as a whole. That said, we know that the plan that gets approved will not work for all children and all families and we will work with those members of the Pride on a case by case basis. If a family decides that USD 469 is not the place for them for AY 20-21, we will also assist those families in any way we can to transition them to their new home.
To our teachers, you are our front line troops. We support you just as we support our men and women in uniform. We acknowledge your concerns for your safety and the safety of your students; they are very real. We also need and want to hear your voice. Please get involved in the planning process in your school. We thank you for all that you do for our kids and therefore, our future. This is going to be a great year and you will be a huge part of that.
To our parents, we, the BOE work for you. You trusted us with your vote but, more importantly, you trusted us with your children. Please reach out to your BOE member of choice and/or to Mr. Wessel with your general concerns. If you have a concern specific to your child, please reach out to your child's principal or vice principal. We'd also like to thank you for lifting a good part of the load last semester. I wish that I could tell you that we would be returning to normal. We will not be. Hard decisions are still in your future regarding the education of your child and measures that you may be required to take to enable your child's and the Pride's success. We can do this if we all give way together.
So, where are we now? As mentioned, the district office staff and the Building Leadership Teams are in the process of turning the BOE's guidance into a plan which will be presented to the BOE prior to August 7th, 2020. Between now and then, parents, reach out to your Site Council or get involved in your Site Council as they will be giving feedback to the planning team. Teachers, stay plugged in to your PLC and BLT.
There are no books to pull off the shelf that have the solution to this wicked problem. And, even when our plan is complete and approved, it will only be as good as that day's conditions. Therefore, we will remain flexible to meet the opportunities of an ever changing environment while we accomplish our mission and keep all Lions safe.
It's a great day to be a Lion!
John D. Dalbey, Sr.
USD 469, Lansing, KS