During unprecedented emergency, educators working to re-start school

Despite the closure of school buildings because of coronavirus, educators throughout Kansas are providing free grab-and-go meals for students and working on continuous learning plans they hope to implement as early as Monday, March 30. 

During a news conference Friday, Wichita USD 259 Superintendent Alicia Thompson said, “As adults, we can show our children what grit and resilience looks like and I know that we will make it through these very trying times together.”  

When Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday ordered the closure of schools, educators statewide, often with cooperation from businesses and volunteers, scrambled to make sure students were getting meals. Communication of these efforts spread by word-of-mouth and online. Go to school district websites or social media, and one will find directions to get free breakfasts and lunches. 

In addition, school officials immediately started the task of ensuring that continuous learning takes place by providing resources for students through the remainder of the school year. 

 Two days after Kelly’s executive order, a special task force outlined how to re-start school through a blend of online learning, education packets delivered to homes, small groups and other methods. 

The task force’s 76-page document was praised by many, including Kelly and state Rep. Brenda Dietrich, R-Topeka, and a former school superintendent. Dietrich tweeted, “Much thanks to the top-notch team of educators who created the Continuous Learning Guidance document! They did a tremendous job and Kansas students and teachers will be grateful for their skillful work.  I just finished reading the document and it is impressive.” 

Now less than two weeks after Kelly’s executive order, teachers will be teaching again.  

In a typical message to families, Erie USD 101 said, “Our staff and board of education are also working on other critical issues, such as what this means for our senior students, how this will affect next school year and what impact this will have on our employees. 

“We are committed to working together as a community to support one another throughout these unprecedented times, and communication will remain a top priority.” 

Telephone conversations and zoom meetings have been occurring throughout the state in which administrators, teachers, and staff are getting ready to resume teaching. 

The closure and start of continuous learning are unprecedented in our state’s history. And events are moving quickly as the spread of COVID-19 increases.  

Winfield pre-school teacher Tabatha Rosproy, who co-chaired the continuous learning task force and is the 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year and a national finalist, offered advice, saying, “This is a period of growth where we need to have grace for ourselves, our coworkers, our students, and our families. I’m sending all my love and strength to each of you. Thank you for caring so much about your students.” 

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