COVID-19/Continuous Learning Update

COVID-19/Continuous Learning Update

Pioneer Staff and Families - COVID-19/Continuous Learning Update 

The Leavenworth Unified School District and Board of Education truly appreciate the patience and support offered as we work through an ever-changing environment of unresolved issues related to public health and education.  We have been closely monitoring the questions submitted via phone, email, and social media, and are working with leaders across the state to gain clarity that can be shared. The remainder of this update will likely leave many questions unanswered, and may even spark new ones, but each passing week we are confident that our new normal will be more clearly defined.  

Last week at this time, Leavenworth USD 453 wrote to inform students, families, and staff of the decision to suspend all Spring sports practices, events, and activities, to allow for a focus on disinfecting and deep cleaning of our sites for in-person group instruction for students.  Things have changed quite significantly since then, not just for schools, but churches, restaurants, and area businesses. Impacts and disruption to our daily movements are happening all around us. The Leavenworth County Health Department has provided ongoing guidance that will help to prevent the potential for spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), but this has resulted in sweeping changes in how our district operates and provides services to our school community.     

Every day we receive new direction and recommendations from the federal, state, and local level, highlighted on Tuesday by the Governor of Kansas closing school sites for the remainder of this year.  On Wednesday afternoon, the first positive cases of the COVID-19 virus were reported in Leavenworth County. This makes it more important than ever that we are following CDC guidelines to wash hands; avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; avoid contact with sick people; stay away from others if you are sick, or have recently traveled internationally since March 15, been on a cruise ship, or visited a hot spot of high virus transmission, such as California, Florida, New York, Washington, or select counties in Colorado.

The Leavenworth Unified School District leadership team continues to engage in daily calls with the Kansas State Department of Education, and yesterday began thorough review of the Continuous Learning Task Force guidelines intended to serve the learning needs of students to complete the 2019-20 academic year.  Our teaching and learning and administrative team met before Spring Break to plan for a possible short-term school closure, and advanced planning as the public health situation has evolved. A survey was distributed to USD 453 households yesterday to solicit critical feedback that will assist our local definition of continuous learning, and specifically consider how we can provide services and connections with all students.     

The ending of this school year will look and feel like none other, and will require innovative thinking and flexibility by our students, families, and staff.  We are taking our time to ensure our planning accommodates all students (e.g. those without technology access, special education, etc.), and can be implemented by our teaching staff.  The work of our school staff will be challenged as we maintain social distancing guidelines of six-foot spacing, and limits of 10 individuals per location.    

The road ahead will truly be an endeavor for our entire Pioneer community, especially if there are health impacts that prevent current staff members from safely reporting for duty. We are encouraged and humbled by offers to help from recent graduates, parents, former staff members, and local churches once we have solidified next steps.

*Preview for Week of March 23-27

*This planning reflects current guidance from the Leavenworth County Health Department and is subject to change as further direction is received. 

Breakfast/Lunch Service:  The Child Nutrition Department has filed an emergency waiver to provide free breakfast/lunch service. We have spent this week developing a service plan for both drive-thru and walk-up service at multiple locations, and assurances that food is prepared and distributed in accordance with public health guidelines on social distancing. Additional information will be shared next week with a specific launch date. Note: per USDA guidelines, a child 1-18 years of age must be physically present at the point of distribution.

Cleaning of facilities: The Leavenworth facilities department responded to COVID-19 concerns by systematically moving staff through each of our eleven locations this week.  An estimated 40 employees from custodial, grounds, and maintenance tackled all buildings consisting of approximately 700,000 square feet over the course of three days.  With the addition of the grounds and maintenance crews, building custodians were able to increase the hands-on cleaning and accomplish a complete wipe-down of all buildings in a timely manner.  Every touch surface was cleaned and disinfected using a hospital-grade quaternary disinfectant that is approved to kill all major viruses including those in the COVID-19. Staff focused on door hardware/handles and door edges, tabletops, chairs, locker fronts, walls, and restrooms.  The cleaning continued with custodial staff after the initial wipe-down, returning to doors and high traffic areas. Glass and secondary surfaces were cleaned and disinfected in this second round. This process will repeat, maintaining focus on the high traffic areas and main touchpoints. Custodial staff will remain on multi shifts to best provide support for cleaning and operations.  An additional step taken by the facilities department was to change all the main heating and air conditioning system filters to an anti-microbial media filter which will provide an extra level of filtration of the supply air in the buildings. 

Collection of student medicine and medical supplies: Beginning next week, students with medicine and medical supplies that are stored on site for school day availability will be directly contacted by their school nurse to coordinate pick-up. Physical presence of students/guardians will count towards current limits of 10 individuals per location. 

Collection of student personal belongings: It is essential that we control traffic to building sites, and physical movement within our spaces that adheres to Leavenworth County Health Department parameters for social distancing to prevent community spread. We are hopeful for a contact and coordination plan to be in place early next week, to permit temporary access of scheduled groupings to the school for collection of personal property.  Physical presence of students/guardians will count towards current limits of 10 individuals per location.   

Household technology survey: The results of a survey distributed to a parent/guardian of each student will be assessed to develop best practices for education and service delivery. We understand that not every household is equipped sufficiently to support an online environment, and planning is also well under way to develop solutions for those students as well. 

Continuous Learning: Building principals will meet with faculty and staff throughout all of next week, in collaboration with district leadership, to develop and plan implementation of continuous learning for Leavenworth students for the completion of the 2019-20 academic year.  This plan will require presentation to the Leavenworth Board of Education for review and approval. Our working goal is to provide an update to students and families the week of March 30 as to how we will continue to prepare our students for success.

USD 453 Staff will be directly contacted by a building administrator, or supervisor, with specific guidance on report time and location for the week of March 23-27.  Staff scheduling is in active development, and staff should NOT automatically report to any given location without being communicated with prior to Monday, March 23.  All USD 453 staff members should consider themselves on standby and available to participate in the development of our continuous learning planning process.  

Please see the attachments below for more information.

Cold vs Flu vs Allergies vs Coronavirus.pdf