USD 383 school board discuss potential reopening plans

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The USD 383 Manhattan/Ogden School Board Wednesday began initial discussions of how it plans to reopen schools for the fall.

The current timeline for reopening, according to the state, shows planning to begin on June 1st, guidance from the state on July 10th, and implementation on July 15th. Superintendent Dr. Marvin Wade says they want to do everything they can until that July 10th date to be ready for implementation.

“We don’t know if there is going to be any kind of flexibility in terms of assessment, days in the school year, and for us to be able to look at possibility of waivers,” says Wade.

Wade says implementation would include getting the schools ready for the first day of school August 12th. The district currently has four teams in place focusing on different aspects of reopening; Facilities and Safety, Budget and Support, Coordination and Communication, and Instruction and Technology.  Each team will have district cabinet members, as well as a small number of other qualified individuals who have expertise.

The coordination and communication team will be monitoring the other teams to make sure they are on track. Teams will meet once a week through the summer on Mondays.

The Facilities and Safety team is led by Maintenance Director Matt Davis. He says the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to safety is hand sanitizer stations.

While they don’t have any exact plans yet, the team is thinking of having wall mounted and stand up sanitizer stations in the schools.  Teachers, staff, and students would use these stations every time they left the building or went to lunch.

Davis estimates the hand sanitizer in these stations would cost around $1,000-$2,000 a month. Schools are also looking at how they can implement social distancing in classrooms with desks six feet apart and other drastic measures.

Access to buildings will also be restricted to only persons who are allowed in the building.  Staff will also be present to check temperatures for those who are entering and leaving the building.  Staff will be cleaning buildings, touch points, and playground equipment with a new chemical cleaner approved by the EPA to combat COVID-19. However, they do not have enough staff to spray every day, but will if they see a rise in cases.

For the Budget and Support team, Business Services Director Lew Faust presented the CARES Act revenues and expenditures for the district. The district is expected to receive around $668,000, with around $490,000 of it documented for expenditures. Those funds must be spent by September 2022.

“The plan is to draft a conservative budget that allows for flexibility and has the potential to try and adsorb some budget allotments, if we get those,” says Faust.

During a previous meeting, Faust says those allotments can come in at one, three, or five percent. The amount of money cut to the district could range $381,000 to $1.9 million.

HR Director Andrew Turner says they are working to identify staff that may require reasonable accommodation based on at risk COVID-19 factors.

“We’re working to identify staff to potentially to serve the online teaching capacity, what that capacity looks like or what platform, and providing staff information on their rights and requirements,” says Turner.

Assistant Superintendent Eric Reid says they are looking at flexible language in upcoming contracts when it comes to accommodations.
For Instruction and Technology, Teaching and Learning Executive Director Dr. Paula Hough says they want to focus on their reliance of district approved curriculum protocols.  This means not creating new resources to be used during this time.
“Access and Equity will forever be a topic that relates to staff, students, and families.  When it comes to teaching and learning, how are we going to do it and what does that look like to not necessarily mirror what is happening in classrooms, but provide a comparable experience,” says Hough.
For professional learning, the team is focusing on personalized learning, as well as individual student files.  Hough says they are implementing communication tools to communicate with parents better.
Director of Technology Mike Ribble says they are having discussions on having students who needed hot spots to keep them in case of additional issues.
“We felt like this would be a good pilot test of what a 1:1 plan would like into the future that is a piece of what we are looking at with our current technology,” says Ribble. “We are continuing to look at internet options where we might be able to provide internet we need access.”
Ribble says they are also looking at expanding their 6th-12th 1:1 plan, by adding the elementary levels as well.
No action was taken on these ideas, as they are just suggestions these teams are looking at.
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Sam Hennigh

County government and school board reporter. 2016 Kansas State University graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications. Kansas born and raised.

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