Shawnee Mission seeks input on draft plans for reopening schools amid pandemic

Secondary students in SMSD have been in remote learning mode since Nov. 30 due to a shortage of certified staff at that time. File photo.

The Shawnee Mission School District on Wednesday released draft plans for reopening schools this fall against the backdrop of a pandemic that shows no signs of abating.

Three documents posted on the district’s website provide an outline of how education might be delivered at the early childhood/elementary, middle and high school levels in three scenarios: on-site, remote and blended.

“We are committed to ensuring our children are getting a high quality education, even if health considerations require changes in the delivery of learning,” wrote Superintendent Mike Fulton in a letter accompanying the plans. “The plan details three different approaches to instructional delivery: All students in school, an alternating schedule where students would attend on-site part-time and remote part-time, and all instruction occurring remotely at home.”

The district also sent an email to families with a link to a survey seeking feedback on the initial drafts.

Each document includes sections detailing plans for:

  • non-instructional considerations, including tactics for maintaining social distancing and keeping buildings clean
  • instruction expectations, including tactics for ensuring academic rigor regardless of how instruction is delivered
  • social and emotional support and learning, including tactics for teachers and students to stay connected even if they aren’t physically in the same place

The documents highlight the complexities of attempting to maximize in-person classroom time for students while adhering to best practices to stop the spread of COVID-19. The elementary plan, for example, notes that “strict adherence to social distancing cannot be guaranteed” in a model that would have students in their buildings full time. Social distancing would be possible in the a blended model, the plan notes, but a number of steps would need to be taken to attempt to reduce contact between students and staff.

That plan calls for no school assemblies or field trips to be held, and suggests placing markings on the floor in classrooms to denote six-feet of separation. There would also need to be school-wide coordination to attempt to ensure multiple classes didn’t need to use the same hall or stairwell at the same time.

Each of the plans can be downloaded from the district’s website here.