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Andover Continuous Learning Task Force begins charting our path ahead


Posted Date: 03/19/2020

Dear Andover Families,

First, I hope that you are safe and well in this new situation we find ourselves in. Just as you are likely planning for a new normal in the next few months, Andover Public Schools is in the process of doing the same. This message is the first in what will be a series of daily updates to our community to keep you informed about how learning will be structured and other logistical matters during the remainder of the school year as our state and nation look to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What has happened so far: Gov. Laura Kelly announced Tuesday afternoon that all schools in Kansas will cease using school facilities for in-person instruction for large groups of students for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. This is consistent with federal guidance that no more than 10 people should gather in one room, and that they be at least six feet apart. Gov. Kelly directed school districts to implement a continuous learning plan to ensure that learning continued for students virtually or through assignments completed at home. Gov. Kelly asked districts to implement in-person instructional and safety protocols for small groups of students if districts wanted to conduct limited instruction for groups not to exceed 10 people.

On Sunday, the Kansas State Department of Education convened a Continuous Learning Task Force made up of educators from across the state to determine what education might look like if  schools had to make changes because of this outbreak. We were fortunate to have four educators working with that group.

This morning, KSDE released the results of the group’s work: Continuous Task Force Learning Guidance. This offers in-depth guidance and answers to questions districts may have. It lays out a framework for professional learning, technology and other topics that will be necessary for each student to be successful in this new environment.

What happens next: Andover Public Schools has convened its own Continuous Learning Task Force, which met via video conferencing for the first time this afternoon. This group, composed of educators, administrators, classified staff, parents and community members, will adapt the state’s guidance in ways that work best for Andover students and educators.

We have subgroups of the Task Force looking at subjects such as instruction, operations, technology logistics, special education and addressing the social/emotional needs of our students.

Timeline to resume learning:

  • Friday, March 20 through Monday, March 23: Task Force and subgroups develop plans.
  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 23: Plans are presented to Andover Board of Education.
  • Tuesday, March 24: Building principals meet via video conferencing with staff to discuss next steps.
  • Tuesday, March 24 through Monday, March 30: Educators develop plans to teach in this new model of learning.
  • Monday, March 30: Teachers or principals communicate plans with students and families.
  • Tuesday, March 31: Learning begins again.

Our mission

Several key principles will guide us during this time:

  • The health and safety of our students and staff come first: We will not take any action that endangers our students or staff.
  • Less is more: We will find ways to ease into continuous learning that is manageable for students, families and educators.
  • Focus on the essentials: What do students need to be taught between now and the end of the school year? We know this will not be the perfect situation; how can we make it as good as it can be?
  • Grace: We all will need to show each other grace during this transition time, whether it’s staff, students, families or others. This is a challenging time for all of us, and we will figure this out together.

Other FAQs

While there are many questions we do not yet have answers to, I can address a few of the more frequently asked questions raised in the past few days:

What is the plan for food service? We expect to start having grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches available beginning this Tuesday, March 24, at several locations. We will share details about that in tomorrow’s update.

When can my child retrieve personal belongings from school? We are working on a plan for this so that we can stagger how many students are in a classroom, or within a close vicinity, at one time. We expect that to be part of the Task Force report and will share the plan next week.

Do I need to buy new technology? At this time, we would encourage parents not to purchase new technology for instruction. We plan to conduct a survey to help gauge technology availability and will adapt lessons accordingly.

What about graduation, prom, etc.? Unfortunately, CDC guidelines will not allow us to have large gatherings such as graduation and prom as previously scheduled. We are extremely proud of our seniors and will find alternative ways to honor them. You have our commitment that any seniors who would have met the requirements for graduation if not for the pandemic will receive their high school diplomas.

Again, we will share more details in our daily updates as the Task Force completes its work. Until then, please direct any questions you might have to info@usd385.org and we will do our best to address them. You also can find updates at www.usd385.org/coronavirus. I wish you a safe and healthy evening.

Sincerely,

Brett White
Superintendent