Pending approval by the Board of Education of District 435, Abilene public schools are tentatively scheduled to begin the fall semester on Wednesday, August 26,
Superintendent Greg Brown reported via e-mail following the Dickinson County superintendents meeting with Dickinson County Health Department officials.
“The five superintendents in Dickinson County met with the county health department to collectively determine a prudent start date for our area,” Brown said. “The decision was made to wait until Wednesday, August 26 before starting school with the students.”
Abilene’s school board will gather in a special meeting Monday, July 27 at 7 p.m. for discussion and approval.
In a memo sent to staff on Friday morning, Brown outlined the plans made so far as to opening school. He asked the teachers and certified staff members to report at the originally scheduled date on the school calendar. New teachers will report Aug. 3 with all staff returning on Aug. 7.
Brown indicated that reporting on the same dates as planned will provide more time to plan for not only the start of the teaching and learning season, but also build in flexibility for providing whole-scale remote learning if it becomes necessary to step away from face-to-face instruction for a period of time.
“The teacher-leaders who served the district during Continuous Learning this past spring came back together with the administration this past Monday morning,” Brown said in his statement to the staff. “Some great planning has already begun, but we know the entire teaching staff needs a great deal of collaboration time getting ready to provide first-rate instruction while following disease-prevention guidelines.”
He also pointed out that Remote Learning this fall couldn’t be the same as Continuous Learning from last spring. He said the district is going to provide students the opportunity to join the face-to-face classes through the Internet. He said there was going to be a great deal of planning to provide that format.
Classified Staff reports
Brown reached out to the nine-month certified staff personnel of the district, letting them know the initial plan is for them to report on August 13. He said with the exclusion of bus drivers, that building secretaries needed to be in place to help manage questions and concerns from the public. School nurses will be planning for sickness response while the janitorial staffs will plan for and initiate extra cleaning measures associated with preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Awaiting word from KSHSAA
The Kansas State High School Activities Association is currently gathering information from each district as to their start dates and will then issue their guidelines for sports and other activities at school. Brown anticipates hearing from them some time this week.
The USD 435 Board of Education will meet in a special meeting tonight at 7 p.m. to allow board members and administrators time to share the questions and concerns they have received from patrons. The administration team will then share a draft of an Operations Plan for the district. The plan will be used to facilitate the discussion within the buildings.
“We are all living in a time where we are truly being held hostage by coronavirus,” Brown said. “If our county experiences a significant spike in cases, everything we just shared is back on the table for discussion.”