Students in Center and Spring Hill school districts return to school Wednesday

Center School district.jpg
Posted at 6:27 AM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 07:27:17-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The fall semester begins Wednesday for students and teachers in two Kansas City area school districts.

The Center School District, which covers a portion of south Kansas City, Missouri, will start the semester in a totally remote setting.

Elementary students at the Spring Hill School District, USD230 in Johnson and Miami counties in Kansas have the choice to start the semester online or in-person. Middle and high school students will begin class online.

The district reached that decision based on recommendations from the Johnson County Health Department. The health department director explained the gating criteria to 41 Action News reporter Ariel Rothfield.

Superintendent of the Center School District Dr. Yolanda Cargile said she took advice from health departments, elected leaders and reviewed data on her own before recommending the entire district begin the semester online. The Board of Education approved her recommendation in late July.

Originally, Center was going to begin the semester with a hybrid format, combining online and in-person teaching.

“We needed to pivot. Once we realized the numbers were not decreasing and in fact the percentages were getting higher, our original plan then became our phase two,” Cargile explained.

She said her team will continue to monitor numbers and recommendations to decide when to move to phase two.

Center purchased new devices over the summer so students in kindergarten through second grade will now have a device to use from home, something the district didn’t have last semester when stay-at-home orders forced districts into remote learning. Older students will also receive a device from the district, just like last semester.

Cargile said teachers and administrators spent the summer training on virtual platforms like Google Classrooms and Seesaw to set students up for success this semester.

“I’m a firm believer increased adult learning leads to increased student learning,” Cargile said. “So we spent the time and focus on professional development for staff as staff prepared for the upcoming school year because it is different.”

Both districts decided to move forward with fall sports and other activities. While practices are taking place, the districts are working on new rules for spectators during events, like mask and distancing requirements.