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Tuesday Talk with Dr. Dain - November 17, 2020

Greetings Pirate Nation!

Happy Tuesday to our Pirate Family!  I hope everyone was able to rest and unwind over the weekend.  On Friday I shared some additional information with you regarding a COVID update for the KC Metro Area.  Today’s update has some additional COVID-19 information along with some information regarding district updates.

Student Desks

The district currently has excess student desks and chairs that we will be disposing of. Prior to taking them to auction, it was suggested by a member of our board of education that we offer the items to students in our community who may need it for setting up a remote learning space in their home. The items are in great shape, we are simply running out of room to store them. District staff will be hosting a pickup event on Friday and Saturday of this week at the CTE Building (formerly Piper East Elementary at 4410 N. 107th Street). We ask that you please sign up for a time slot and let us know how many desk sets you need so our staff can have them ready to load into your vehicle. One desk set per USD 203 student. To sign up for a pick-up time, visit https://signup.com/login/entry/227014565434950044. Quantities are limited. Signup will be closed if and when the maximum quantity available is met.

 

COVID-19 Updates

New Wyandotte County Executive Orders

On Friday, Wyandotte County released a new Executive Order that related to schools.  Please find the link to that Executive Order Here. Here is a summary of the new and repeated information in that Executive Order:

  • The only new piece is that instead of only having 50% of our students in attendance we can have more than 50% in the classroom if there is the square footage to keep them socially distanced by at least 6 feet.  The formula is the square footage of the room divided by 36 square feet.  For example, if a classroom is 840 Square Feet, divide 840 by 36, and there can be 23 (23.3) to 24 people in the room.
  • There is still the order of the cohorting Early Childhood through 12th grade; you will see that again we have to have our plans approved by the Health Department.
  • You may have heard that neighboring school districts in the County are bringing back secondary students but I want to explain to you the way in which that model looks:
    • Students come to school in their cohort, and they sit in the same classroom all day doing remote work on the computer.  (The only difference from us is that they sit in the classroom doing their remote work versus doing it at home.)
    • They are supervised by the same teacher all day, who may or may not be one of their 8 teachers, but that teacher is sitting at their desk teaching students remotely—not teaching directly to the classroom. 
    • The students do not go to each of their 8 teachers because the county mandates that they stay in the same cohort all day long.  They go to school and sit in the same classroom all day long learning from their computers. 
    • They have no direct instruction.
  • You may ask, why do we have to follow the Executive Order of the Health Department? During this pandemic, the Health Department, as part of the Unified Government, is the governing agency for school districts in Wyandotte County.  They are the entity that can close us down completely.  If we do not follow their directions or Executive Orders, they can simply decide that all of our schools need to be closed and then all of our students will be remote.
  • You may also ask, how is this different from the Executive Order related to sports? The difference with sports is that we DID follow the Executive Orders as they pertained to Wyandotte County, hence no games or activities took place within the Wyandotte County limits.
  • We have submitted 6 different plans for secondary and this Thursday, November 19th, I am meeting with our secondary administrators and counselors to work on a 7th model to submit. We are continuing to work on plans to submit to the Health Department to get our secondary students back in school.

On Friday, November 13th in a meeting with the Health Department, we learned that the Health Department currently does not have plans to close down schools due to the current community COVID-19 numbers barring an emergency situation.  Schools are continuing to do an outstanding job of mitigating COVID-19 risks.  However, their recommendation (not part of the Executive Order) is that schools close after Thanksgiving Break through winter break bringing the students back in January at the beginning of the second semester, along with canceling winter sports until at least the students return in January.  At the current time, the Wyandotte County Superintendents (minus USD 500) felt we wanted to keep students in school as long as we could unless we had an outbreak being spread in the schools or if we didn’t have enough staff and/or substitutes to cover the classrooms.

Board Meetings

Although the Board and I have been covering all things COVID-19 related in our monthly BOE meetings during my “Superintendent Comments”, we will be adding a separate and continued agenda item of COVID-19 Updates which will include subset points including getting our Secondary Students back in school. 

Please note that not only are community members invited to attend meetings and/or view meetings live on the district’s YouTube Channel, but patrons are always welcome to directly address the Board of Education with ideas and concerns.  Please contact Kelly Connor at kconnor@piperschools.us if you would like more information as to how to be added to the community forum of our Board Agendas.

Weekly WYCO UG/Health Department Briefing

This week’s COVID briefing with Wyandotte County focused on the increased number of positive cases, increased numbers of COVID-19 tests being administered, and decreased number of available hospital beds in all of the Kansas City Metro Hospitals.  Statistics that were shared from the Health Department:

  • 9,628 current positive cases in WYCO (in which they are aware)
  • 167 WYCO Deaths (in which they are aware)
  • 88 new cases a day (at their testing center)
  • 464 community members tested yesterday at their testing site; 32% tested positive
  • Hired 2 new contact tracers

Updated Piper School District COVID-19 Data: 

 

Students (9/9-11/17)

Staff (8/12-11/17)

Piper Early Childhood

0

3

Piper Prairie Elementary

9

2

Piper Creek Elementary

11

2

Piper Middle School

5

1

Piper High School

13

3

Travel & Exposure Isolations/Quarantines

Many families will be traveling over the long Thanksgiving holiday.  Please find guidance from the Kansas Department of Health & Environment regarding out of state travel and self-imposed quarantines.

Piper Returning to Learning End of Quarter Staff and Parent Summary

At the end of the first quarter, the district asked both staff and parents to complete a survey to give us their feedback as it relates to our Piper Returning to Learning Plans.  I asked every principal and every district department director to share their top 3 priorities and we are working as quickly as possible to find solutions to these issues.

RECYCLED INFORMATION

Snow Days

Now that the district is 1:1 and 50% remote learning, I have been fielding questions regarding if we will continue to have snow days due to inclement weather—or if an inclement weather day just becomes a remote learning day.  Well, to the disappointment of children and teachers everywhere (insert the sarcasm), it isn’t quite that easy.  In order for us to count a remote learning day towards our 1,116 hours of schooling that must be completed during a school year, we must serve lunch.  So, as we think about cancelling school due to inclement weather, it seems counterintuitive to ask our kitchen staff and student body to miss school but get out and drive to pick up lunch.  Therefore, at the current time and/or until we get close to using all of the snow days built into the school calendar, inclement weather days will NOT become automatic remote learning days.  In other words, we will still need to utilize traditional snow days if the weather prevents us from safely transporting students to school.

Livestreaming District Sports

Looking for a way to support the Piper Pirates while still following social distancing guidelines?  We are thrilled to share with you the new livestreaming capability we have purchased in order to follow Piper Middle School and Piper High School athletic events and activities.  Our new platform is called The NFHS Network!  Looking to purchase a subscription? To subscribe to the NFHS Network, simply go to www.nfhsnetwork.com/subscribe/retail and select the All-Access Monthly Plan. You will need a valid email to create an account.  From there, just search for Piper High School in KCK.  All games are listed under the high school, but both the MS and HS schedules are included. 

Can’t livestream but want to stay up-to-date?  Don’t forget to “FOLLOW” these handles on Twitter:

@PiperUSD203

@PiperPirates (PHS Activities)

@piper_middle (Piper Middle School)

@PiperCreek (Piper Creek Elementary)

@PiperElementary (Piper Prairie Elementary)

It will be critically important that families continue with the mitigation efforts mentioned above, as we approach this Thanksgiving holiday break and other social gatherings. Otherwise, community transmission levels could impact our ability to staff elementary schools, and to perform necessary contact tracing to identify potential spread within our buildings. Again, students and staff have been doing an excellent job of keeping schools safe to remain open, but they can’t do that by themselves. Staffing is a critical issue, and we need the entire community’s help in keeping schools open.

Proud to be a Pirate,

Dr. Jessica Dain