UPDATE: Following a recommendation by the Kansas State Department of Education and Governor Laura Kelly, Salina USD 305 schools will be closed all this week, March 16th – 20th. USD 306 Southeast of Saline is also closing along with USD 307 Ell-Saline.
The state agency released the following statement:
Salina USD 305 public schools are making plans for students to return to class following a week off for spring break. Teachers return on Monday. Students will return Tuesday.
Superintend Linn Exline sent a message to a parents detailing plans.
In the message Exline said they remain in close contact with public health and education officials and comply with all guidance.
School Districts are following the guidance from the Kansas Department of Health & Environment and the Kansas State Department of Education. There is no directive that has been issued by either agency to close schools that do not meet the criteria that they have set. This is an evolving situation and their guidance is constantly being updated and being followed by school districts in cooperation with the Saline County Health Department.
Large events, involving more than 100 individuals, are cancelled through April 1st. They will be evaluating events in April and May.
Additionally, schools are analyzing school day schedules so to support smaller groups of students. For instance, arrival and dismissal practices will be changed and lunches will be adjusted. School principals will share specific details.
The superintendent said they will remain vigilant and ask that everyone do the same. Their focus continues to be on prevention and preparation. If anyone is sick they are urged to stay home.
Schools are planning on doing things which include increasing the frequency of hand washing, and have adjusted custodial schedules to provide additional cleaning support when students are in the buildings.
School nurses will continue to serve as a resource.
Exline urges everyone to work together to teach and model good hygiene practices. Thos include:
- WASH hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
- AVOID touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- AVOID contact with people who are sick.
- STAY home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
- COVER your mouth-nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
The district offered some answers to some questions.
- Why is USD 305 closing only on Monday, March 16th? At this time, the guidance provided is to remain open. They say closing schools early in the spread of disease for a short time (e.g., 2 weeks) will be unlikely to stem the spread of disease or prevent impact on the health care system, while causing significant disruption for families, schools, and those who may be responding to COVID-19 outbreaks in health care settings. It may also increase impact on older adults who care for grandchildren.
- Why are large events cancelled, but school is not? KDHE says schools are different from large events. In a school, the public health department can identify who had direct contact with an infected individual. Most large gatherings have no record of who attended the event. In addition, schools can put in recommended precautions such as increased handwashing and surface cleaning.
- Can I decide to keep my student home because of COVID-19? As always, the final decision about your child attending school is yours. Please notify the school if your student will be absent. Your student’s school will be your resource for missed schoolwork. During this time, we are adjusting attendance policies to hold families harmless regarding truancy.
- What if staff or students traveled during spring break? They are asking that all staff and students who traveled outside of the United States stay home for 14 calendar days from the date of return to the United States. If this applies to your family, please call the school attendance office to notify them.
- Are school start and dismissal times affected? No. School start and dismissal times are unchanged.
Other public schools in Kansas, including in Lawrence, Topeka, Junction City, and Abilene have opted to delay students returning from spring break.
Multiple colleges, including among others The University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, Fort Hays State University, Emporia State University, Washburn University, Kansas Wesleyan University, and Salina Area Technical College in Salina are among others across the state planning to offer online only courses when classes resume.