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KC-area districts getting ready for first day of school in variety of ways

Student in classroom
Posted at 5:46 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 19:20:49-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many Kansas City-area school districts are about to start school in a week.

Do they feel ready?

41 Action News found that being "ready" for this school year involves more than just a different curriculum.

The Piper School District's first day of classes is Sept. 9.

"With being a teacher, the word 'nimble' is just a part of our DNA," teacher Amber Buck said.

For Buck, being ready means checking in with her students' social and emotional well-being. That's where she believes her Core class will be an important tool.

"We hopefully help students connect to who they are and connect to the world as well, and do that in a positive way," Buck said. "With COVID impacting everyday lives, that's definitely going to be a different-looking situation as we go virtual and hybrid."

Raytown schools also are starting after Labor Day on Sept. 8. Associate Superintendent Brian Huff said the district is ready to provide individualized support so families can feel ready.

"There's families where mom's working two jobs, the 12-year-old is watching the 8-year-old. And we've had a lot of conversations with families about that and, actually, we changed a little bit of what we're doing because of that," Huff said.

The Raytown C-2 School District looks at students' academic and behavioral needs within three tiers, and staff are applying that model to virtual learning.

Tier one students have support at home, internet access, a safe space to do their work and family members who can help them. Tier two students may need some intervention, such as the district providing a WiFi hotspot or sending extra instruction home to parents. Tier three students need the most intervention; they do not have internet access at home, parents or guardians are working multiple jobs, and their home situation is not stable.

Huff said the district is recording all live virtual lessons so that if something comes up, the student can access their work later.

Buck also helps prep students for job-readiness after high school. She said COVID-19 won't get in the way of that, and it might be easier now because industry professionals can "visit" the class virtually.

"We're looking at how we're going to provide 'externships' and internships for our seniors," Buck said. "So still connecting them to market-value assets and real-world learning experiences, even if it is virtual."