COVID-19 SCHOOL CLOSURE GENERAL UPDATES
May 14, 2020
As we close out this school year, our attention begins to turn to the summer and student activities. Our staff pays close attention to local and state guidelines, specifically health and safety guidelines through the Harvey County Health Department, Governor Kelley's office, and the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), which is our governing body for school sponsored activities and sports.
These guidelines currently allow students to participate in summer strength and conditioning programs beginning June 1. Our administrative team and coaches are working to plan strength and conditioning sessions that offer the safest environment possible, and the current details of our plan can be found by clicking here.
Coach Tyson Bauerle, our Head Football Coach and our Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, will communicate with students and parents going into grades 7-12 about the summer program, including the schedule and further detail on the safety measures being put into place for the summer sessions.
We recognize that our kids need an opportunity to enjoy the normal activities that come with summer, and strength and conditioning along with various camps, open-gym opportunities, and competitions are part of that experience. According to current county and local guidelines, there are allowances for those activities to resume based on specific dates included in the phase-in plans outlined in the links above.
We also recognize that our students and parents will have concerns and hesitancies related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and although we will create the safest environment possible, we cannot guarantee the safety that one's own home environment provides.
Because we desire to create the best plan possible for summer activities, we would like to hear back from our parents. Linked here is a brief survey and opportunity for you, as a parent of an incoming 7-12th grade student, to share feedback with our administrative team and coaches, based on the details of our Summer Activities Plan. We will continue to develop our plan between now and June 1 and will utilize information from the survey, from other school districts, and from local and state health agencies to establish all necessary safeguards and safety protocols.
We want to stress that our Summer Activities Plan meets all current requirements of the Harvey County Health Department, the Governor's Plan to Re-Open Kansas, and KSHSAA Summer Guidelines. The plan has been submitted to the Harvey County Health Department for review and has been approved based on current local and state guidelines. If dates are changed within the county or statewide phase-in plan, we will adjust our dates accordingly and communicate with you on those changes.
We hope you will take the time to complete the survey and feedback form, and please always feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 620-327-4931, should you have questions or concerns about this topic or any other matter related to USD 460.
Ben Proctor, Superintendent
April 29, 2020
The word unprecedented is often used to describe the current circumstances related to education and just about every other aspect of society. We have never seen a disruption to our daily lives like that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools look much different than they ever have before, and although educators and families have made the very best of the situation, we all recognize a need to look forward, to something better.
We will most certainly face incredible challenges in the weeks and months ahead, as we work together in our local communities to safely re-establish our way of life. As educators, we recognize the incredible role our school systems play in this process. We know there are many questions and concerns on the minds of parents, students, staff, and every person impacted by the closure of our schools. Our commitment is to tackle each of these questions and concerns and to thoughtfully and diligently navigate new challenges in a way that makes safety the top priority for all.
Soon, we will close out this school year and transition to summer. Closure includes recognizing the successes of our students, particularly those of the graduating class of 2020. In an effort to determine the very best way to honor our graduates, Mr. Rhodes has worked with a group of students and staff to develop several different plans, each depending on the options we will have according to state and local health officials. These plans will be shared soon and will undoubtedly represent the very best ideas available to us. In addition, Mr. Heinrichs and a middle school team are working to create similar plans for 8th grade promotion.
We so appreciate everyone's patience, flexibility, and the grace you have extended and continue to extend as we close out this school year. Our administrative team is gearing up to plan for August and a return to school. We know there will be adjustments based on our response to the pandemic, but we are optimistic that we will have students and staff back in our buildings in August. In order to safely return to an in-person educational model, there is much to be considered, and it will require a great deal of collaboration and feedback with our families, staff, and the entire school community. Opportunities for this type of collaboration will be presented soon, and we look forward to meeting our new challenges head-on and with the collective wisdom and unique experiences of the people of Hesston.
There is a lot we do not currently know, but we are optimistic that the picture of what the next few months will look like will become clearer as we move into May. We will use the very best information available to us and rely on health and educational experts to plan accordingly. As we work through that planning process, we will remain committed to communication with our entire school community and committed to receiving feedback on how our plans are evolving.
Thank you for all you do to support our kids in Hesston. This is an incredible community, and we will become better because of the way we meet this challenge together. Please do not hesitate to call or email anytime you have questions or concerns, and we look forward to better days ahead.
April 8, 2020
Over the past few weeks, we have settled into a much different approach to school than we are accustomed to. It's been challenging in many ways, and we appreciate all of the patience and understanding our school community has shown us during this transition to distance learning.
We want to take just a moment to update you on a few important items and also ask for your feedback on how things are going so far.
Food Service: We will continue to offer breakfast and lunch to anyone 18 years and younger in our community. We serve each Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from our middle school gymnasium parking lot from 11:00 am until 12:30 pm. Because they were days scheduled to be off from school, we will not provide meals on Friday, April 10 or Monday, April 13 (we will serve on Thursday, April 9). We will resume our regular schedule on Tuesday, April 14 and plan to serve each Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for the remainder of the spring semester. If you have not signed up for meals, but would like to do so, please complete this form.
Technology Support: We have distributed many devices to students over the past few weeks. With this, we know there are going to be technical challenges, and we are committed to responding to any tech issues you are having right away. Please complete the Technology Support Form if you are having any issues with your device. We will get back with you as soon as possible.
No Home Internet Service: If you have limited or no internet service at your home, we will deliver hard copy materials to you. This service provides delivery each Monday and pick-up each Friday. We also have WiFi access at our stadium parking lot that runs through our network filters and is accessible for all students. There is a plan through Cox Communications that some families in our community have taken advantage of.
Continuous Learning Plan: Our approach to distance learning this spring is called the District Continuous Learning Plan. To see an overview of this plan and look at descriptions at each grade level or content area, please click here. Our Board of Education approved this plan on Monday, April 6 and it was submitted to the Kansas State Department of Education on Tuesday, April 7 as part of our required process to continue schooling for this spring semester.
Staying Informed: We are committed to providing ongoing communication to the entire school community, and linked here you will find ways we will communicate throughout the spring semester. We are also working towards establishing an official district facebook page and hope to have that process completed soon. If you haven't downloaded our new Hesston Swather mobile app, you can learn more about that feature by clicking here.
Staying Connected: One of the most critical parts of our Continuous Learning Plan is staying connected with every single student in our district. Our teachers are committed to providing the very best learning opportunities possible, and this all starts with student connections and participation. If we begin to lose connection with our students, we are going to be proactive in making phone calls to parents to make sure everything is ok. Please continue to encourage your children to stay connected with their teachers throughout the spring semester.
Feedback: We believe it is critical to hear back from our families about our Continuous Learning Plan. This includes feedback on how we are communicating and how your experience learning from home is going. Please take just a few minutes to provide your perspective on how things are going through these first few weeks of this transition. You will find the Parent Implementation Survey by clicking here.
Our priority is to provide you with the very best communication, support, and service during a time of uncertainty and unprecedented changes to how we operate as a school district. Our staff is working hard to make the most of this new challenge, but we know it is difficult for everyone. So, if you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to let us know how we can help. Our central office is open during the day, so feel free to call 620-327-4931 or email email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
April 3, 2020
Although our buildings are closed for the spring, we are going to give our very best effort to embrace a new approach to teaching and learning in Hesston Schools. We will stay connected to our students while working to create authentic learning experiences that focus on essential competencies for each grade level and content area. Our District Continuous Learning Plan will develop over time and will emphasize interaction, creativity, service, and family involvement. It will not be perfect, but we will make the most of the challenge put before us.
On Monday, April 6, the Board of Education will discuss an overview of our District Continuous Learning Plan and look at how the plan is progressing in the earliest stages. We will analyze our Continuous Learning Principles and make sure our approach to teaching and learning this spring are appropriate for these unprecedented times.
You can see an overview of our plan by clicking here, and you can view our CLP principles below.
- We will emphasize relationships, connections, and support for ALL kids.
- We will focus on what is essential for kids to learn and “do less really well.”
- We will extend grace to all and remain flexible throughout the spring.
- We will use materials, resources, and platforms familiar to teachers and students.
- We will establish a framework of expectations and accountability for students.
- We will take a team approach to our work.
As always, if you need anything at all, please contact Ben Proctor at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the central office at 620-327-4931.
March 28, 2020
Earlier today, Governor Kelly issued a statewide "stay home" order beginning on Monday, March 30. You might wonder what impact this executive order has on our school operations including our plan to distribute personal belongings and technology devices on Monday.
After consulting with the Harvey County Health Department and the Kansas State Department of Education, we plan to follow our regularly scheduled item pick-up and distribution at each building on Monday, March 30. Nothing has changed about this plan, and you can view the schedule for each building by clicking the links above.
We would also like you to know that we are changing our food service program schedule a bit for the coming week and the rest of the spring. Beginning the week of Monday, March 30, we are going to serve lunch and breakfast on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of each week.
We will continue to serve five lunches and five breakfasts each week, but we will distribute meals for two days on Tuesday and Thursday. For example, on Tuesday, you will receive a lunch for Tuesday, a breakfast and lunch for Wednesday, and a breakfast for Thursday. We appreciate everyone's participation in the food service program. We distributed 963 lunches and 963 breakfasts last week.
As always, if you need anything at all, please contact Ben Proctor at email@example.com or call the central office at 620-327-4931.
March 25, 2020
Below are updates on a variety of topics related to school closure and our Continuous Learning Plan.
FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH: Every child 18 years and under is eligible for a free breakfast and lunch. Currently, we serve out of our middle school from 11:00 am until 12:30 pm each day. We also deliver to those in need of that service. You can sign up for food for your children by clicking here. We will continue to offer this program through late May, but it could look a little different over time, and we will communicate any changes to you.
TECHNOLOGY NEEDS: Please let us know if your child needs a technology device and/or if you do not have internet access at home. You can do this by completing the Technology Needs form linked here. It is not necessary that every child in the home has his or her own device, but if you have multiple children, having multiple devices will be helpful. We will get those to you on Monday, March 30, which is addressed just below.
TECHNOLOGY DEVICE & PERSONAL BELONGINGS PICKUP: We will distribute technology devices and personal belongings on Monday, March 30. You can find each building's schedule and directions for personal belongings pick-up and technology device pick up by clicking the links below.
NEW WEBSITE AND MOBILE APPLICATION: We had planned to switch to our new website this summer but feel it will help us better communicate with our community now. So, we made the switch. This new platform is much more mobile friendly for those who receive most of their information on their mobile device. We also now have a mobile application, which you can download from the App Store or Google Play Store by searching Hesston Swathers. We will get some tutorials on how to use the app, but it will allow us to push out information to our community and provide you with district and building-specific information in an effort to streamline our communication. You will find a short instructional video on the new mobile app by clicking here, and you will find a visual tutorial by clicking here.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS: We have compiled some commonly asked questions and provided answers to those questions. You can access that information by clicking here. Some of the answers change as days go by, and we will work to keep this page updated as we learn new information or establish new procedures and protocols.
CONTINUOUS LEARNING PLAN: The Continuous Learning Plan is our approach to schooling for the remainder of this school year. We established Phase I last week, which involves teachers making initial connections with students. Connections will continue to be a focus for us all spring. Phase II involves a transition to teaching and learning, and this process will be gradual and flexible. Beginning Monday, March 30, your child can expect to begin receiving some communication from his or her teachers about what school will look like. It will feel a bit like "back to school" time where expectations and procedures are communicated, but it is important to know that this transition will take time. Elementary teachers will primarily use Class Dojo, while middle and high school teachers will use Google Classroom as a primary communication tool. Kansas Family Guide to the Continuous Learning Plan.
CONTINUOUS LEARNING PLAN PHILOSOPHIES: For over a week, USD 460 has had a team of teachers and administrators working on our District Continuous Learning Plan. As part of that process, we developed philosophies that will support the implementation of the plan. We want to share these philosophies with our families and students to help all of us partner with one another through this new approach to school. Our Continuous Learning Plan philosophies are:
- Emphasize relationships, connections, and support for ALL kids.
- Less is More! Focus on what is essential for kids to learn and “do less really well.”
- Extend grace to all and remain flexible throughout the spring.
- Work to use materials, resources, and platforms familiar to teachers and students.
- Establish a consistent framework of expectations and accountability for students while recognizing the challenges we are all facing right now.
- Provide ongoing instructional and technology support.
- This plan is not going to require students to sit in front of screens all day!
- A team approach is crucial to the success of our Continuous Learning Plan, and our teams include teachers, students, and parents/guardians.
As always if you have questions, contact Superintendent Ben Proctor at 620-327-4931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 18, 2020 - Community Update
USD 460 Families,
Earlier today, you should have received an email from your child's principal with some information on a variety of topics. We have a new team in our district called the Continuous Learning Team, which is a group of teachers and administrators tasked with developing a plan for how we can best support student learning this spring. The team held its first virtual meeting this morning and we decided that the first phase of our plan is to connect with you and your children. Over the next week, our teachers will communicate with their students in a few different ways but the focus is on connection, touching base, and just checking in with one another.
Over the next couple of weeks, our Continuous Learning Team will work towards a second phase of our plan, which will be more of an academic focus, but we are not ready to move in that direction just yet. We want to connect first.
We know closing schools to our normal everyday functions creates so many hardships, and all of us are recognizing just how much our schools mean to each one of us. There are immediate needs in our community, and below are a few forms that will help us identify these needs and how we can best support families at this time.
We are going to begin serving breakfast and lunch to our students or any child in our community ages 1-18 on Monday, March 23. If you are interested in learning more and would like to sign up for drive-through or delivery service, please click the following link to share important information with us: Lunch and Breakfast Form
In order to move forward towards a new approach to teaching and learning, technology will play an important role. If you need technology support, specifically a school-issued device for your child or if you do not have home internet access, please complete the following form so we can help you with those issues: Technology Needs Form
As always, please let me know if you have any questions on anything at all, and we'll be back in touch very soon. Feel free to call our central office at 620-327-4931 or email email@example.com.
March 17, 2020 - Coronavirus Update including School Closure Information
Today, March 17, 2020 Governor Laura Kelly announced the closure of school facilities to normal daily functions for the remainder of the school year. This will place tremendous hardship on our families and staff, and impact the well-being of our students.
We have been working on contingency plans since mid-March, including how we can meet the ongoing learning needs of our students and provide breakfast and lunch for our students. Our Continuous Learning Team will be working on this plan over the next couple of weeks as we work towards communicating with our families.
Our staff and board of education are also working on other critical issues, such as what this means for our graduating seniors, how this will affect next school year and what impact this will have on our employees. We will provide updates on these issues as soon as the information is available.
We are committed to working together as a community to support one another throughout these unprecedented times, and communication will remain a top priority. We will provide ongoing updates on this webpage.
There will be much more information to come, but we will plan to serve lunch and breakfast to all children who need it beginning Monday. We are also in discussions about how we can best support childcare needs in our community as well. We know there are many needs in our community and our school district is committed to serving the community.
As a reminder, this school closure is in response to the current public health crisis. The focus should remain on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is also referred to.
Please be mindful of the following:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing (cough/sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue).
- Please keep sick children at home.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Follow additional guidance from these sources:
March 15, 2020 - Coronavirus Update
Late this afternoon, KSDE in coordination with the Governor’s office, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and many other educational agencies in the state provided new recommendations for Kansas schools. This includes a strong recommendation that all schools who are not on spring break close this week, March 16-20. We are already on break for the coming week.
As these recommendations apply to Hesston USD 460, we will have no activity on our campus this week other than essential personnel only. Essential personnel in this situation are defined as custodial and operations staff who will focus on deep cleaning in buildings and our Health Advisory Team who will be working to coordinate our short and long-term contingency plans.
We know this is not ideal for anyone, but it is necessary to ensure we accomplish our goal of “flattening the curve.” There are no known cases of the Coronavirus in our schools, but aggressive social distancing measures, good hygiene practices like handwashing, and deep cleaning of facilities are essential at this critical time in dealing with this unprecedented and historical event.
KSHSAA has suspended spring activities including practices through March 22. HRCE (recreation) activities have also been canceled for the week. Our hope is to know more about long-term plans by the middle of the week.
Ben Proctor, Superintendent
March 14, 2020 - Coronavirus Preparedness
Earlier this month USD 460 convened our Health Advisory Team to discuss our district’s level of preparedness for potential instances of the Coronavirus. As part of this process, we identified important partners and essential resources that will help guide our decision-making during a time of rapidly changing information related to the Coronavirus.
Over the past week, and especially in the past day or two, we have seen many organizations, events, and everyday parts of our lives canceled or disrupted. Schools are a place where many people gather each day, and therefore, we are an organization that must evaluate the most appropriate steps moving forward to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus. In doing so, we will continue to rely heavily on state and local health agencies to make important decisions.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the Harvey County Health Department, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are critical resources for USD 460 as we make decisions moving forward. Our Health Advisory Team receives daily updates from agency partners and discusses how we will communicate should our everyday operations be disrupted.
Currently, we are advised to continue to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses through common sense actions such as staying home when sick and washing hands frequently. Our operations team is being extra diligent and attentive to disinfecting hard surfaces, door handles, and other areas that are touched often. We will continue to follow and promote these common sense practices.
We are committed to making certain our kids and our staff feel safe at school. There is potential for people of all ages, the little ones and big ones alike, to feel scared, anxious, or a wide range of other emotions as they see events canceled and hear more about the spread of the virus. Although we must remain vigilant, it is not a time to panic, but it is a time to stay informed and exercise discernment based on factual and reliable information.
We will accomplish this through daily collaboration with health agency partners at the state and local levels. We will practice situational awareness at all times. We will promote common sense practices that slow the spread of respiratory illness. We will know what to do if there is a case of Coronavirus in our region, or community, or school. If there is a need to close school for a time, we will do that too in collaboration with our state and local health agencies and other community partners.
As of today, state agencies are not recommending we close schools unless our local health agencies in collaboration with state health authorities advise us to do so. There are guidelines we will follow promoting good hygiene and social distancing at school, and we will provide more guidance on this during spring break.
We do know school closure is a possibility, so we want our families to be prepared if that were to happen. Our goal at this point is to plan for all contingencies including how our schools could support childcare needs, food service needs, and other needs in our community.
We are scheduled for spring break next week. I will be in the office throughout spring break, and we will closely monitor all developments related to the Coronavirus over the break. Should we need to make decisions related to school after spring break, we will communicate accordingly.
We hope everyone enjoys spring break spending quality time with family. Should you have questions or concerns over the break, please feel free to call our office next week at 620-327-4931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
For up-to-date information, click here for the KDHE Coronavirus Resource Center or the CDC Website. Additionally, we will keep this web page updated as we receive new information and make important decisions about school and events.
Ben Proctor, Superintendent
March 4, 2020
The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority, and we want to share with everyone in our community that our school district is well-aware of the Coronavirus concern in our country.
According to the CDC, the risk of contracting the Coronavirus remains low, and there have been no confirmed cases in our state or community. However, USD 460 is committed to taking forward-thinking steps to keep our students and staff healthy and safe, and that is the primary purpose of this communication.
In collaboration with the Harvey County Health Department (HCHD), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), our district has developed a Preparedness and Response Plan to address the remainder of the cold and flu season along with uncertainty around the Coronavirus situation.
Below are recommendations from the CDC to prevent the spread of respiratory illness:
Students and Staff
- Wash your hand frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Stay home when you are sick and only return to school when there are no signs of fever or other symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Use hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
- Cough into your elbow or sleeve.
- Monitor your children for illness and do not send them to school if symptoms are present.
- Please call the school to report absences and share symptoms to assist school personnel in monitoring the spread of respiratory illnesses.
- Stay informed through this website link and Infinite Campus (IC) communication.
- Ensure systematic and thorough cleaning of hard surfaces, door handles, drinking fountains, etc.
- Provide hand sanitizer stations throughout our buildings.
- Review attendance patterns and communicate with local health agencies if absenteeism seems to be a result of respiratory illnesses.
- Follow our district Continuity of Operations Plan should a large number of staff members need to stay home.
- Partner with local health agencies, such as the Harvey County Health Department.
- Utilize available communication platforms to share updates with staff and families.
- Daily review data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the HCHD.
- Enact our district response plan should there be any confirmed cases of coronavirus in our school district.
USD 460 will remain proactive with our communication as we work closely with various state and local agencies. You can also visit the CDC Coronavirus website by clicking here and the KDHE Coronavirus website by clicking here.
As always, please call our central office at (620) 327-4931 should you have questions on this matter.
USD 460 Nurse