I wanted to provide this update on where USD 108 is on the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic.
Starting on Thursday of this week, Dr. Randy Watson and his staff at KSDE has been having DAILY briefings. These briefings will continue to occur all through next week. This is a rapidly changing environment and what happens on Monday may differ greatly from what is happening right now. The guidance districts are following are from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Several states have ordered the closure of schools, but Kansas has not.
Over the past couple of days, Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson has emphasized repeatedly that any decision to close a school would be made by health officials — not school administrators nor local school boards. I do not have the authority right now to close school.
Asked why universities in Kansas have decided to close while schools haven’t, Watson noted the risk is different at universities because of the international travel of some students and faculty. Also, college students are better equipped to continue their education online.
While e-learning has been touted as a way to provide instruction during a school closure, many public school students don’t have computer devices or internet at home. Public schools must comply with laws to ensure equal access to education to all students, including those with disabilities, and that would be difficult if schools were closed. We ARE exploring this option in the event we were to close, but this is not an ideal situation and there are strict guidelines we would have to follow for the hours to count with the state.
If a school is required to close due to COVID-19, the requirement from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is that the school must be closed for a minimum of 14 days following the decision, after which time the communal spread of the virus will be reassessed before the school is cleared to reopen. During this mandated closure, schools will be required to conduct a deep cleaning of the building.
The district has a comprehensive and thorough cleaning/disinfecting plan in place that includes an emphasis on disinfecting desk tops, hallway walls and doorways, water fountains, restrooms, and office counters. Desk tops will be sprayed down at the end of the school day. While our custodial staff always do a stellar job on the cleanliness of our buildings, we will be extra vigilant during this time.
We did have a staff member travel to the Netherlands over spring break returning on Wednesday of this week. She has voluntarily placed herself into quarantine for the 14 days since her arrival back home. I must stress that she has NOT presented any symptoms and this self-quarantine is strictly a precautionary measure.
At this time, no school events have been canceled, including TVL music on March 23. HOWEVER, information on this pandemic changes on a daily (If not hourly) basis and that is still a possibility.
We are asking you to contact the school if you or your family members traveled to an area where they might have been exposed to the COVID 19 virus over spring break. This would be on a voluntary basis so we are able to take precautionary measures at school. If your child would need to be self-quarantined due to possible exposure, they would need to be absent from school for 14 days and would need to be held in isolation during that 14 days. Following guidelines established by the KDHE, these 14 days would not be counted as absent from school
While this is unchartered territory, we need to exercise common sense. Lisa Ouellette is very knowledgeable on this situation and will be monitoring students and staff closely. Thank goodness we have a full-time school nurse! WE LOVE YOU , Lisa . Wash your hands. Cough into your elbow. Do not shake hands (right now). If you are running a fever, please stay home.
Stay tuned for additional information on this rapidly changing situation.