USD 489 Board of Education moves start of school year to August 26


Board member Tammy Wellbrock speaks during the special Board of Education meeting on July 30. The Board unanimously approved an Aug. 26 start date for the 2020-2021 school year.

Tribe Broadcasting

USD 489 Board Of Education met for a special meeting on July 30 and unanimously approved an Aug. 26 start date for the 2020-2021 school year.
After approval of the agenda, board president Mike Walker made his opening comments.
“The plan which we approve will not meet the needs and desires of everyone,” Walker said. “It is also likely to change as time goes on.”
Walker also assured the public of the board’s dedication to protecting student safety.
“Having to assure people that we believe in viruses is truly a sad commentary on our society today,” Walker said. “In short, we are engaged in this issue. We do not delete emails, nor dismiss information from experts.”
While the Kansas State Board of Education granted counties the freedom to choose a start date, the state board did not grant counties flexibility in the 1,116 required student-teacher contact hours.
“I’m not a doctor, I’m not a healthcare worker, I never claim to be, so at the end of the day we’re going to defer to the experts,” board member Lance Bickle said. “We’ve had staff members and the county and city health experts that we’ve been in contact with.”
The meeting was then opened for audience participation.
Hays High School Assistant Principal and Activities Director Lance Krannawitter addressed the board.
“The kids have been out of school for so long and out of activities for so long that if we delay the opening of school and then have to go to a Phase 3 situation, which makes us close school, that’s all the fewer school days we have with our students,” Krannawitter said.
Krannawitter also emphasized the start of the KSHSAA calendar.
“All schools are following the KSHSAA calendar,” Krannawitter said. “They will be starting practices on August 17. My hope is that regardless of what start date we do decide on, we need to keep in mind that we plan on starting practice August 17, and we would keep our same event calendar regardless of the start date.”
After discussion, the board voted on a motion to set the start date for the 2021-2021 school year for August 26, 2020, with sports practices beginning on August 17.
The Calendar Committee will spend the next several weeks adjusting the district calendar in order to meet the required education hours while not extending school into June.
“We’ve had some people offer to add minutes to the school day,” Superintendent Ron Wilson said. “We really are not interested in reducing the number of student contact days just so we won’t go past Memorial Day. Just adding additional minutes does not always equate to better learning.”
Masks and temperature checks will be required at all district buildings.
“We’ll do our best to social distance, but there will be times where it’ll be near impossible to social distance six feet or more, which is why it’s extremely important to wear masks in all of our schools because of the density,” Wilson said.
For those who do not feel comfortable wearing a mask, virtual learning options will be available.
“We are still planning,” Wilson said. “We learn more, we have more information to make decisions, we adapt. This isn’t a finalized plan. There’s still going to be lots and lots of tweaks as we approach the 26th of August.