KSDE unveils `Kansas Schools Gating Criteria’

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson on Tuesday released recommendations for schools to consider when determining on-site, hybrid and remote learning options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The color-coded “Kansas Schools Gating Criteria” was put together by education and health officials and meant as suggestions for schools, said Watson.

He said school boards and administrators should use these suggested thresholds in consultation with local and state health officials to determine what is the best option to keep students safe.

“The local school districts have to wrestle with the details of this,” Watson said. He said school boards across the state are working hard to provide the best options for students and parents. “These are challenging times and all we can do is be supportive of the people doing the work and giving them the best information that we can,” he said.

During preliminary discussion on the gating criteria, Board Member Jim McNiece, of Wichita, asked Watson if legislative leaders are being kept in the loop with this information and realize the need to protect K-12 funding.

Watson said he stayed in contact with legislative leaders and noted that school districts “are going to need very bit of money that they have” to provide cleaning, hiring more substitutes and other costs. “Our legislators have indicated to me that they understand that,” Watson said.

The board was scheduled to discuss the gating criteria document further this afternoon.

At the outset of the meeting, State Board Chair Kathy Busch, of Wichita, acknowledged the challenges of opening schools during COVID pandemic. She thanked all school employees for their hard work, adding, “We know we are going to have to be flexible and make adjustments as we go.”

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