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State Board of Education accepts school reopening guidance document

Posted: Jul 15, 2020
Author: Ann Bush

‘Navigating Change’ outlines three learning environment options

The Kansas State Board of Education on Wednesday, July 15, accepted a guidance document developed to help schools reopen safely and deliver education through multiple learning environments as the need arises.

The more than 1,000-page document, titled “Navigating Change: Kansas’ Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations,” was developed entirely by Kansans. It was designed around two guiding questions:

  1. How do we keep students, educators and community members as safe as possible?
  2. How do we ensure each student is learning and being supported regardless of the learning environment.

 

The document contains guidance only - there are no mandates in it. This guidance provides districts the flexibility they need to meet the unique needs of students, educators and communities.

Districts will be able to utilize the portions that work best for them. What may work for a smaller district, may not work in a larger district.

“Navigating Change” addresses four main areas: competencies/standards, assessment, implementation and operations.

The guidance document was developed because Kansas’ school districts will face many different scenarios with the start of the 2020-2021 school year, including parents who may not feel comfortable with their student or students returning to school and teachers who aren’t able to return to the classroom because of health risks.

“Navigating Change” will help districts develop avenues to ensure rigor and assessment regardless of the learning environment.

General Guidance

The document outlines three primary learning environment options for schools to consider: in-person, hybrid and remote. Based on recommendations from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), general guidelines for districts to consider when determining which environment should be implemented include:

  • Low restrictions: Utilize on-site learning when disease spread, as represented by the daily case rate of new cases by onset date, is low or on a steady decline.
  • Moderate restrictions: Utilize hybrid learning when disease spread, as represented by the daily case rate of new cases by onset date, is flat.
  • High restrictions: Utilize remote learning when disease spread, as represented by the daily case rate of new cases by onset date, has been increasing over four to six weeks or less as determined by the health department.

Districts will need flexibility to navigate changing circumstances created by the pandemic. This includes schools needing to transition in and out of different learning environments, staffing fluctuations, etc. The guidance includes recommendations for implementing a competency-based approach to education.

Guidance Development Process

Kansas teachers, administrators, service center employees, educational consultants and Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) employees reviewed and analyzed current state educational standards and used those to develop a competency-based model for four grade bands – Pre-K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

An Implementation Team reviewed the developed competencies and provided recommendations for how Kansas schools and educators can implement instructional models in a variety of environments – in-person, remote or a hybrid learning environments. This team was comprised of teachers, parents, counselors, school psychologists, curriculum directors, library media specialists, state and local board members, legislators and educators in all content areas.

At the same time, an Operations Team began developing guidance on how to reopen schools safely – everything from sanitation, facilities and transportation to food service and cocurricular activities. The Operations Team was comprised of teachers, school administrators, transportation directors, nurses, food service employees, state and local board members, business managers, county health officials, and leaders from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The third phase of work included about 500 Kansas teachers and educators who advised the State Board and KSDE on the professional development educators will need as a result of the guidance. KSDE is currently working with its education service centers and others to begin rolling out these educator trainings.

The result is a comprehensive document designed to help facilitate district-level planning discussions as schools prepare to reopen.

To access “Navigating Change,” visit https://www.ksde.org/Teaching-Learning/Resources/Navigating-Change-Kansas-Guide-to-Learning-and-School-Safety-Operations

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