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Kansas districts to close for remainder of school year because of COVID-19 Task Force devising plan for continuous learning
Kansas districts to close for remainder of school year because of COVID-19 Task Force devising plan for continuous learning
Jim Perona
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
TOPEKA — Unprecedented circumstances that threaten the safety of our students and the professionals who work with them every day require swift, thoughtful and coordinated action. On Tuesday, March 17, in response to COVID-19 safety measures, Gov. Kelly announced that school buildings across the state must be closed for the duration of this school year for the purpose of general student and staff attendance. However, learning will continue for Kansas students. A task force comprised of many of the state’s top educators in Kansas continues working to develop plans for continuous learning. The task force will deliver their recommendations to Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson by Wednesday evening. Kansas education is among the finest in the country. Closing classrooms and moving to a continuous learning plan can’t begin to replicate our state’s education structure as we know it, but it can help ensure strategies that will provide a bridge back to the world-class learning our students benefit from today. Essential staff members – as determined by local district officials – may be needed through Friday, March 20, to assess and prepare for facility maintenance. While schools are closed, administrative offices and support facilities may remain open as needed. Once buildings are thoroughly sanitized, they will be able to reopen for small groups of school personnel to implement a plan for continuous learning. We realize this is a difficult time, but Kansans always have persevered. And we will continue to do so. We will work together to get through this, and we will overcome this challenge and emerge stronger. 
Talking Points From Governor Kelly's Address
1.   Kansas education is among the finest in the country and our teachers, administrators and policymakers strive to provide a world-class education for each Kansas student.  2.   The reality of this pandemic is that school buildings must be closed for the duration of this school year to help control the spread of this virus in order to protect our most vulnerable population, but learning must continue. 3.   Unprecedented circumstances that threaten the safety of our students and the professionals who work with them every day require swift, thoughtful and coordinated action.  4.   As all citizens adapt to the recommendations being put forth by health professionals, we are closing our school buildings statewide for the purpose of general student and staff attendance. Administrative offices and support facilities may remain open as needed. 5.   Through this Friday, March 20, essential staff members- as determined by local district officials- may be needed to assess and prepare for facility maintenance. 6.   As we speak, a task-force of many of the top educators in Kansas is working to recommend to the Commissioner of Education, avenues for Continuous Learning for our students. 7.   We realize that closing classrooms and moving to a continuous learning plan cannot begin to replicate Kansas’ great education structure as we know it. 8.   Continuous Learning encompasses methods and strategies that will provide a bridge back to the world-class learning our students benefit from today.      9.   Once these buildings are thoroughly sanitized we will look to reopen them for small groups of school personnel to implement a plan for Continuous Learning.  10.   Additionally, I am calling on district leaders to prepare for a time when schools may reopen and only as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment deem it is safe to do so.  11.   Ad astra per aspera literally means, “to the stars through difficulty.”  Our Kansas motto has never been more appropriate and it is through our Kansas spirit that we will overcome this challenge and emerge stronger for the future. 
USA-Kansas will be working with superintendents and principals across the state with communications and Zoom conferencing to support the needs of school districts during this time.  This will include group conversations, idea sharing, etc.  Please make sure to stay tuned in.  We don't want anyone to feel like they are in this alone.  We are all in this together and USA-Kansas promises to do our best to provide you the resources and support you need during this uncertain time.