By Julie Perry

Kansas school district superintendents received a set of proposed recommendations Thursday from the Kansas State Department of Education on ways to start the 2020-21 school year.

Nothing in the document is mandatory and most decisions about reopening school buildings for the 2020-21 year will come from local superintendents and administrators, said Mark Tallman, associate executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Tallman led most of Friday’s one-hour Zoom session with school officials to discuss school reopening.

School buildings were closed by the state in March to try and slow the spread of COVID-19. Students attended class online from home for the remainder of the school year.

Some schools, including Marysville’s USD 364, have reopened for summer school, weights programs and physical activities. A KSDE task force, with input from school districts, teachers, parents and school board members, has worked to devise a plan to help districts start the next school year as the pandemic continues to grow statewide. Last month, KSDE told districts they would need to be prepared for any scenario that involves COVID-19.  

Superintendents were given time to review KSDE’s latest recommendations and make suggestions on them before a state plan is presented July 15 to the Kansas State Board of Education for a vote.

“We are currently meeting and discussing how things are going to evolve and will have information to parents as soon as possible,” said Matt Rogers, superintendent of Vermillion School District, which includes Frankfort and Centralia.

Unified School District 223 Superintendent John Whetzal said reopening plans are starting at Hanover, Barnes and Linn. The Washington County schools wanted to have similar plans in place, he said, which will require plenty of work in advance.