Shawnee Mission superintendent says continued learning plans should be coming by end of the week

Superintendent Mike Fulton, seen above in a file photo, says he expects the district to communicate details of its continued learning plans for students by the end of this week.

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Shawnee Mission families should have a clearer picture by the end of the week of how the district plans to execute continued learning operations this spring while its buildings are closed under the state’s coronavirus mitigation order.

Superintendent Mike Fulton this week gave an overview of the efforts central office and building administrators are undertaking to the board of education during a remotely conducted meeting. He also recorded a video message to district families outlining the district’s response to the building closures.

“As a school district, our focus now is on helping to meet basic student needs, such as food, while identifying workable strategies to help our more than 27,000 students with meaningful educational opportunities for the remainder of the school year,” he said.

The district launched its pick-up-and-go meal service program Tuesday, with distribution points at Comanche, Rosehill, Shawanoe and Hocker Grove.

Fulton also noted that building personnel are working to returning essential items students may have left in their buildings prior to spring break — like medication — while adhering to the state’s orders.

As for continued learning plans, Fulton indicated that administrators would be communicating with families by the end of this week. The continuous learning task force assembled by Gov. Laura Kelly after the closure order released its initial recommendations last week. Those included limited screen time and keeping the amount of time students are spending on schoolwork to less than three hours.

As Shawnee Mission works to put those recommendations into action, he suggested learning plans will likely differ from grade to grade and building to building as educators grapple with a number of difficult questions.

“How do we ensure equity and access to learning for all students?” Fulton asked. “What delivery methods will be most engaging for our students? What content is most important to focus on?”

Though the district’s 1:1 technology initiative will provide the tools for some instruction, device availability and internet access pose challenges. Students in 3rd grade and above brought their district-issued iPads and MacBooks home with them over the break, but K-2 students will not have access to devices for remote learning opportunities. And not every student who has a device with them during the stay-at-home order will have easy access to the internet.

You can see Fulton’s full message to district families below: