Safety and Security

Committee seeks faster transfer of foster student records

A special legislative committee studying the Kansas foster care system is asking state agencies to address delays in the transfer of school records for students who change schools due to foster care placement.  The request was part of a package of recommendations to improve the foster care system following six days of hearings and discussion. Much of the focus was on the challenges of families in crisis, the special issues of children who are also in the juvenile justice system or who have additional physical, mental and behavioral needs, and coordinating the multiple agencies and organizations, including schools, that are...

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Gov. Kelly says she will try again for a mask requirement

Citing the recent record surge of COVID-19 cases in Kansas, especially in rural areas, Gov. Laura Kelly said Wednesday she will again try to implement a requirement that Kansans wear face masks when out in public. Kelly had issued a statewide mask order in July, but 90 of Kansas’ 105 counties quickly opted out. Since then, the number of deaths in Kansas from COVID-19 increased from 200 to 952 and the number of COVID-19 cases has grown from 14,000 to nearly 75,000. In recent days, Kansas is adding approximately 700 coronavirus cases per day and officials said hospitals are starting...

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Broadband, census, teacher burnout and more to be discussed during KASB Advocacy Update at noon Friday (Oct. 16)

The federal census, broadband expansion, challenges facing teachers during the pandemic and more will be discussed at noon Friday (Oct. 16) during the KASB Advocacy Update. To register for the meeting, go to this link. In recent days, Gov. Laura Kelly has announced a major push to expand broadband internet service, which should help remote learning. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration in halting the Census count — a move that could have repercussions for schools — and the State Board of Education is looking into a number of changes after hearing from teachers about the...

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Survey shows bullying decreases slightly

Fewer students are reporting being bullied, according to the Kansas Communities That Cares survey, which was taken from November 2020 through January 2021. The percentage of children who reported never having been bullied increased from 72 percent in 2016 to 75.7 percent. Those who said they never saw anyone being bullied increased from 41.3 percent in 2016 to 44.6 percent. The survey was taken by 78,548 students in 246 districts and eight private schools. The survey is taken on a volunteer basis by students in sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades and tracks use of harmful substances and anti-social behaviors. In other...

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Complete High School Maize recognized for 2020 National School of Character award

Caitlyn Gregory said when she first entered Complete High School Maize as a student, she felt like she “landed on a soft pillow.” She was 17, pregnant and her mother had recently died. She said by the time she graduated in 2011, Complete High School had “prepared me for life.” Now, Gregory has returned to Complete High School as a science teacher. On Tuesday, the school was recognized as a 2020 National School of Character — the second year in a row for the Maize USD 266 school. Gregory, administrators, teachers and students spoke via zoom to the State Board of Education...

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Children’s Cabinet announces remote learning grant opportunties

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet is now accepting applications for grants to help eligible organizations provide supervised sites for online learning when schools are in remote or hybrid learning modes.  The $40 million grant program was recently approved by the state Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Task Force to support business resiliency during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Parents and businesses have expressed concern and frustration about the challenges of supervising school-aged children who are learning remotely as their parents or guardians return to work after widespread closures last Spring. The grant funds must be obligated and spent by December 30.  Eligible...

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Starting Anew: Concerns raised about health needs of students and teachers

As Kansas schools adjust to the pandemic, educators are concerned about the mental health of both students and teachers.  A task force recently composed guidance for schools to address the psychological impacts of COVID-19 and the disruptions to K-12 education, along with nearly everything else. The KANSAS COVID Workgroup for Kids Mental Health Task Force was sponsored by the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Pediatrics and included local and regional experts.  “We have seen a pretty significant increase in the social, emotional needs,” of students since school restarted, said Brian Murrison, a counselor at Fredonia Senior/Junior High School...

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State Board of Education to take up COVID-19 changes for schools

State education leaders are moving to implement emergency measures to help districts deal with the new school year under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic. During its monthly meeting next week, the State Board of Education will discuss ways to support schools and families during the pandemic, declare an emergency to allow more substitute teachers to teach regularly and consider extending the option of postponing accreditation activities through the end of the school year. Here is a link to the State Board's agenda and backup documents. Speaking to school board members last week during a KASB Advocacy Update, Kansas Education Education...

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CDC again releases guidance on aerosols and COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday released new guidance regarding the role of “aerosols” – tiny airborne particles – in the indoor transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The move comes two weeks after the CDC removed a similar statement from its website, citing incomplete vetting.  In its updated post to its website entitled “How COVID-19 Spreads,” the CDC now observes that “COVID-19 most commonly spreads during close contact” between people who are within six feet of an infected person but that “COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.”   The guidance says some small droplets and particles...

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Watson encourages schools to work toward in-person learning

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson on Friday told school board members their goal should be to have students receive as much in-person learning as possible during the school year.  Watson urged districts to use as many personnel as possible as teachers and reach out in their communities for alternative classroom sites so that more students can be taught in-person while observing precautions such as wearing masks and socially distancing.  As districts across Kansas reopened schools in a variety of ways to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Watson acknowledged there is a lot of frustration among students, parents, teachers, administrators and school...

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