BOE Changes Mind About Hybrid Learning Plan

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The gating information used by the board at their meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, showing most categories in the “red” zone.

Gia Hernandez, Reporter

During a meeting on Nov.9, the USD 259 Board of Education decided that middle and highschool will continue to stay remote for the second quarter of school. Elementary schools will continue with their hybrid learning.

Based on data provided to the board, the positivity rate in Sedgwick is now 15.4% which, according to the Kansas State Department of Education gating criteria, means that all students should be remote learning.

“Students should return to the building when it is safe to return,” Kimberly Howard President of the teachers association said.

While many within the community doesn’t want kids to go back to school due to the rising numbers, “any decision that you guys (the board) make tonight will not be able to reverse the high rates of COVID-19 in our community unless the community also does things,” said Dr. Paul Teran, assistant professor of pediatrics, KU school of medicine, a member of the board’s coronavirus task force.

While the board was presented with information that there are is currently a low percentage of coronavirus cases in schools, many people are worried about an outbreak in schools after they open.

“When you look at the percentage of our kids who are positive or our staff who are positive, it doesn’t look shocking. But if you go out to a building that has been impacted…how long can we do that with fidelity and with safety?” questioned Kimber Kasitz, Director of USD 259 Health Services.

There was a big focus on mental health during this meeting. “Bringing kids back to school full time is not going to fix the mental health crisis that this has created,” Kelli Knetson, a pediatric neuropsychologist and another member of the board’s taskforce said. “We’re going to be dealing with the mental health and the academic fallout from this for years, probably.”

The board is expecting to reconvene at the end of the second quarter and decide their next plan of action.