Abilene pre-Kindergarteners through eighth graders will return to their classrooms starting Monday, Oct. 5, but most Abilene High School (AHS) students will remain in remote learning next week.

However, some high school classes may be conducted in person — assuming certain conditions exist.

“The remote setting moving forward will be less rigid,” according to information  USD 435 Superintendent Greg Brown posted Wednesday afternoon on the district’s website.

Abilene schools shut down in-class learning for two weeks on Monday, Sept. 21 after several staff members and students tested positive for COVID-19.

The district released its reopening plan for face-to-face instruction yesterday.

“We set a deadline for Wednesday afternoon, knowing we needed to spend some time talking with Dr. (Brian) Holmes (Dickinson County Health Officer) to put together a plan he would feel okay about,” Brown explained.

 

Reopen plan

On Monday, Oct. 5 Abilene schools:

• Pre-K through 8th grade will return to face-to-face instruction, except for students who were using the remote learning format prior to the entire district moving to remote learning; and 

• Abilene High School will remain in remote learning for the week of Oct. 5; however, high school teachers are being given the “professional latitude” to have limited numbers of students attend class in person “if and only if each of these students are not under quarantine,” according to the notice.

- The students allowed to return cannot exhibit any symptoms that may be associated with COVID; 

- Classrooms must have the proper space for social distancing throughout the exercise; and 

- Special needs students who are not in isolation or in quarantine will have access to the building.

“We are working closely with KDHE (Kansas Department of Health and Environment), our Dickinson County Health Officer and the school nursing staff to evaluate COVID test results in a manner that allows us to open specific buildings and programs while considering prudent measures to protect the health of our students and staff,” the notice stated.

 

AHS still remote

The reason most AHS students will continue with remote learning next week has to do with the number of students and staff who have tested positive.

“What started with three high school students and two adult staff members has increased to 16 high school students and nine staff members testing positive,” the notice reads. 

“It is prudent to continue with remote learning for at least one more week at the high school level. We currently have no students with a positive test result and the staff members in our other four buildings will be recovered and off quarantine by next Monday,” the notice states.

 

Modified quarantine room

Because of the difficulty faced by parents of young students when children cannot attend school, the district — working in conjunction with KDHE and Dr. Holmes — is looking to establish a modified quarantine room for pre-Kindergarten through fifth graders.

“We’re going to spend a little more time evaluating the possibility of having a school-based quarantine space for the little kids that are not symptomatic,” Brown explained.

“It’s hard on families, especially young families, to send their kids home and not being able to go to work if the kids are not sick,” Brown added. 

“If they’re (children) not showing any symptoms, we think we can put together something that’s sound in terms of preventing spread and serves a need for families.”

More information about that possibility will be released later this week, Brown said.

 

Activities

Middle school activities will resume next week because currently there are no student cases of COVID-19 and any affected staff members are out of quarantine.

At the high school level, cross country and girls tennis will resume next week, but football and volleyball still have restrictions and cannot compete. 

More information about activities will be included in Friday’s Reflector-Chronicle.

 

Transportation

Abilene Public Schools will continue to provide transportation; however, parents are encouraged to bring their children to and from school and to competitive events.

“If we are able to reduce the number of riders, especially during away events, we hope to seat every student in socially distanced locations,” the notice states.

Parents or guardians willing to provide transportation for their child to an event are asked to send written notice — either via email or paper-pen to the respective school’s athletic director. 

 

Meal program

Beginning Oct. 5, AHS students, remote learners or children ages 1 to 18 not attending Abilene Public Schools may pick up a lunch and next day breakfast at the high school.

• Abilene Middle School will no longer be a drive-up site once school returns to session.

• Drive up deliveries will continue at the following locations and times: AHS, 11:30  a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Bus stop at 501 N. Brady, 11:30 to 11:55 a.m.; 6th and Kuney bus stop, noon to 12:25 p.m.; and St. Andrew’s parking lot, 12:30 to 1 p.m.

 

Other

Students are asked to encourage social distancing everywhere they congregate; everyone is asked to wear masks when indoors as much as possible and to wash hands often.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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