TOPEKA – Members of the Lifelong Learning Task Force recently announced that school buildings could be closed statewide, but learning can take place anytime and anywhere. The members of the working group delivered their message on Thursday, March 19.
Kansas Education Commissioner Dr Randy Watson convened the task force earlier this week to provide advice on how schools can implement lifelong learning. These recommendations were presented to Watson on Wednesday March 18 and are now available online by visiting https://sites.google.com/ksde.org/kansascontinuouslearning2020/home.
“I would like to thank the task force for their advice,” Watson said. “These top-notch educators have provided Kansas with a valuable resource, and their hard work will benefit all of us as we move forward.”
Governor Laura Kelly also thanked the members of the Lifelong Learning Working Group.
“I am proud of the response from our teachers and administrators in Kansas during this difficult time,” Kelly said. “The Lifelong Learning Working Group has worked diligently over the past few days and has developed comprehensive guidelines that will ensure continued learning for all Kansas students. I want to thank each member for their dedication to the educators, administrators, students and parents of Kansas. “
Here are some questions Kansans may have:
• What is lifelong learning?
As the name suggests, this will allow Kansas students to continue learning despite school buildings being closed for the rest of the year. Teaching models can include a mix of non-technology; face-to-face learning sessions in small groups; and virtual platforms. Plans will vary from school to school and district to district. Boards and districts will need to make local decisions that are unique to their students, staff and resources. Districts should develop and implement lifelong learning plans in partnership with families, staff and local school boards, and follow guidelines from local health departments and the Department of Health and Environment from Kansas. The working group recommends that districts focus on essential learning for students and use materials, resources and platforms that are already in place.
• How will students be held accountable for their learning and how much time should students devote to learning each day?
Students will have weekly homework assignments, projects and possibly video recordings. The recommended guidelines for maximum student engagement each day are as follows:
o Levels 2-3: 60 minutes.
o Grades 4 and 5: 90 minutes.
o Grades 6 to 12: 30 minutes per teacher for a maximum of three hours per day.
These guidelines are intended for any delivery model – packet, inline, hybrid, etc.
• How will schools help students who do not have online access or technology?
Internet access will be a problem for many families in Kansas, and educators and students may lack the resources to connect remotely. Several companies have announced free Internet access offers during this period. Don’t be afraid to contact local internet service providers to see what options are available. Some students will be able to put a pencil on paper and do school through home projects, etc. Other students may be able to attend school for small group learning sessions, if county and state health officials deem it safe. These things will be different from school to school and district to district. Everyone will need to determine what is best for their community.
• How will schools deal with students at risk, those with special needs and those with Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
KSDE special education staff and special education professionals from various districts provided advice to the working group in these areas. KSDE’s Special Education and Credentials Services team provided guidance to Special Education Directors. District special education directors and KSDE councils should be consulted when making decisions about students with IEP. IEPs cannot be universally changed.
Diploma and other school / sports activities
• What about the conditions for obtaining the diploma?
The Kansas State Board of Education requires 21 credits to graduate. Local councils have the power to require students to earn more than 21 credits to graduate. However, during this time, districts that require more credits than the state requirement may choose to revert to the 21 credit-hour threshold established by the State Board of Education.
• What about the elderly? What about their graduation ceremonies and balls?
We understand that this is a very difficult time for students, especially the elderly. However, based on current KDHE guidelines, events with more than 10 participants gathering in an area will need to be postponed. The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) has published guidelines for spring sports.
• Will students have access to meals?
Yes. School districts and community organizations will be able to serve meals as part of USDA’s summer meal programs. More than 220 schools – public and private – are currently serving or planning to serve meals due to unplanned school closings.
• Do you have any other tips for serving meals?
o Due to COVID-19, the Kansas State Department of Education is providing flexibility for milk requirements in Kansas. During this national emergency, cow’s milk that you can buy (eg, skim, 1%, 2%, whole) can be used to meet the milk needs of any age group within the Child & Adult Care Food. Program (CACFP). Please document when these substitutions are made. This flexibility does not cover the replacement of non-dairy drinks that do not meet cow’s milk standards.
o If you determine that your current meal service plan does not meet the needs of the community and consider using a survey to assess the effectiveness of the current plan, contact Cheryl Johnson, Director of Nutrition and Wellness. children of KSDE. Do not send a survey without contacting KSDE, as federal infant nutrition programs are required to follow very specific guidelines regarding communication to families and participant privacy.
• Will the state still require districts to administer state assessments?
The Kansas State Department of Education does not expect schools to administer state assessments when schools are closed. Even though the Kansas State assessments are administered online, the tests cannot be administered to students in a remote location. Once students return to school, a decision will be made whether to extend the assessment window or remove this year’s assessments.
• Will hourly school personnel still be paid during this period?
• This is a local decision, but schools wishing to request a waiver of the 1,116 school hour requirement will be required to pay hourly staff.
• Will the class hour requirement be lifted for districts?
Districts can submit a waiver request to KSDE. To be approved, districts must submit a continuous learning plan to KSDE and agree to continue paying hourly staff according to their current pay scale. KSDE will provide the necessary documentation for the districts to be completed.
• How can schools contribute to efforts to prevent children from congregating in community spaces and to keep them safe in their own homes?
Keeping students engaged in learning with the lifelong learning plan will be one way. Parents / guardians must play a leading role in this regard.