KCK school board votes to send students in need of support back to in-person learning

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 19:25:44-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  — Some students in the Kansas City, Kansas School District will go back to in-person learning in Feb.

The school board voted 6 to 1 during Tuesday's meeting to allow back certain students at risk of falling behind for a variety of reasons.

Students who meet criteria will go back the week of Feb. 22 four days a week. Those days will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The plan includes:

  • K-5 students who are unable to connect
    • Chronic absenteeism (from beginning of the year until Dec. 18)
    • High risk of not progressing (grades and assessment data)
  • K-5 ESL newcomers
    • Less than 1 year in the country
  • K-5 students with high IEP minutes
    • 40%-60% of their school day is in special education setting
  • K-5 in foster care
  • K-5 students facing homelessness
  • High school seniors at risk of not graduating on-time

Parent Meghen Jones said the plan doesn't affect her children, but she supports it.

"Honestly the priorities make a lot of sense to me under the circumstances," Jones said. "Kids that are needing more support going back first has made sense for a long time."

Interim Assistant Superintendent Matthew Andersen said the district realized the need for these students to be in-person after sending out a survey to building principals.

"We had brought in our intensive supports for ESL as well as special education, but we knew there was a group of students beyond those groups that needed to be back in and that survey really just kind of put it out there for us, we need to do something and we need to do it quickly," Andersen said.

He said there are currently about 1,800 students that meet the criteria.

"We have to go through that list a little further just to see if they want to return to in-person, some may have chosen to be in-person, some may have chosen to stay remote," Andersen said.

According to Andersen, the district is currently focusing on K-5 students based on information from the Wyandotte County Health Department stating younger students are less likely to spread COVID-19 based on their age.

Parent Ana Leal said she believes her third grader son meets the criteria, but she will keep him learning remotely from home where she said he enjoys being taught via zoom and she knows he'll be safe.

"It's not like my son will graduate from 3rd grade and go onto university next year," Leal said. "To me their safety, their well-being, their health is much more important, we haven't even been to a restaurant since March of last year."

The district also announced a list of safety steps it will take to keep students safe.

This includes desk shields being installed when students arrive, classrooms designed to ensure distancing, temperature screening protocols prior to staff and students entering the building, grab and go breakfast and distanced lunch.

The district will also follow Wyandotte County mask mandates. K-5 students will have recess with distancing and masks.

Andersen said the district will possibly phase-in older students at a later date.

Currently, the district is working on reaching out to staff to see who would be interested in working with these students.

The district will reach out to parents and guardians about the current plan once it has identified all eligible students.

"We want to just thank our families, thank our staff and everything they're doing to just make this as successful as possible," Andersen said.