District to be in “orange” operation mode through Christmas

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Just before Thanksgiving break a quote/meme began to circulate on social media:

“I’m not sure about Thanksgiving. The last time the school sent my kids home for a week, they didn’t take them back.”

A joke, referring to the fact that school buildings were shuttered during spring break for the remainder of the spring term of 2020 to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

And as families began preparing for another break — this one for Thanksgiving — cases in Harvey County and Kansas are spiking again.

Monday night the meme/quote nearly came true. Almost.

The number of quarantined students in USD 373 dropped over the course of a week, from 287 to 249. According to Superintendent Fred Van Rankin, there were 23 total cases active in the school district — 14 students.

After reviewing student case counts, county disease spread, the percent of positive tests administered and staff attendance the board of education selected an “Orange” mode of operation when classes are scheduled to resume Nov. 28.

That means grades seven through 12 will be operating in an online only mode. Kindergarten through sixth grades will be operating in a hybrid mode — students attending school in buildings two days a week and online the rest of the week. Pre-K students at Cooper Education Center will attend school in the building all day, every day.

The board approved that mode to be used through Christmas.

In other business the board:

• Received an update from Opportunity Academy about a Department of Justice grant.

• Received an update of the five year capital improvement plan. The district levies about eight mills — about $1.3 million — to fund the capital outlay budget.

• Received an update on Summit Learning at Chisholm Middle School. In response to students who have fallen behind and not completing their work, the school has created “Workshop Wednesdays” to help students get caught up with their work.