We have a few answers to share with you and understand that additional questions remain. Thank you for your continued patience as we develop plans for the 2020-2021 school year. The Lawrence Board of Education on Monday, July 27, 2020, approved an amended school calendar. (See 2020-2021 School Calendar.)
Listening to staff and parent concerns about safety, the board decided that the school year will start on September 8, 2020, with six weeks of 100% distance learning. This instructional delivery model and local public health data related to the spread of COVID-19 will be evaluated by the board on September 28, 2020.
The district’s fall planning task force comprised of 200 teachers and staff have already spent approximately 1,000 hours planning to provide high-quality instruction no matter the delivery model. They have used staff and school family input and the Kansas State Department of Education’s Navigating Change: Kansas’ Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations to inform their work while keeping national, state, and local health and safety guidelines at the forefront.
In addition to responding to concerns about safety, the delayed school start affords the district the month of August to provide extra time for staff professional learning, planning, and preparation. We have learned a lot from your feedback about the continuous learning provided in the spring when the pandemic prompted Kansas school buildings to close. Distance learning in the fall will not resemble the emergency measures implemented last March.
You can expect a more robust distance learning program in September led by educators who will interact frequently with students. Instruction will be based on our comprehensive curriculum and include targeted support for student mastery of knowledge and essential skills defined by state standards and competencies. Meaningful assessment will guide data-informed interventions and extensions to support and challenge all learners. We recognize that social-emotional learning must be an important focus as we support the individual needs of students. Teachers will conference with families virtually the week before school starts to connect, share information, and discuss how to best support your student, including your family’s technology and connectivity needs. The district will continue to provide iPads (elementary and middle school) and MacBooks (high school) to students.
We will rely on your assistance in return. KSDE requires distance learners to submit daily logs signed by students and guardians verifying 360 minutes/day of learning. These logs determine a student’s full-time status and enable full funding for our schools. This state requirement is intended to ensure equitable access to instruction and school accountability. It was not in place in the spring because of a waiver of the state’s instructional requirements. We will be providing you more information and support for completing daily logs.
Special Education Services
We understand that some families have questions about services for students with disabilities. KSDE’s guidance for reopening schools addresses special education services. Students receiving these services typically participate in the same instructional delivery model as their peers, so in this case, distance learning for the first six weeks of school. Our special education staff will be discussing IEPs with families and addressing student needs on an individual case-by-case basis. You will receive more information about these services from your child's case manager and general education teacher.
Free Meals for Children in August
Our Food Service staff will continue to provide free grab-and-go meals for children from 11:30-1:00 weekdays through August 31 at Hillcrest and Schwegler Elementary Schools and Billy Mills Middle School. The district also is working on plans to provide school meal service as an option during distance learning.
Thank you for your support as we strive to offer the best educational opportunities for students. You do not need to complete another survey at this time. We will be reaching out to you in the future to gather additional input. In the meantime, please continue to practice healthy habits, wear a mask, and observe social distancing. If we all do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we will soon be together again.
I appreciate your continued patience and partnership. As soon as additional information is available, we will share it with you.
Anthony S. Lewis, Ph.D.
- July 27, 2020, School Board Meeting News Release
- July 27, 2020, Board Meeting Task Force Presentation
- July 27, 2020, Board Meeting Video
- July 27, 2020, Douglas County Develops Education Unified Command
July 30, 2020, Statement
Lawrence Public Schools will follow KSHSAA and Sunflower League guidance with regard to athletics and activities. The district will apply the same decisions made for the high schools to the middle schools. The administration will bring to the school board on August 10 a report about the safety measures schools will use to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.