Commissioner of Education Issues Guidance To School Districts Regarding COVID-19

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TOPEKA — The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) remains in regular contact with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) as we monitor and address the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.

As of today, March 12, 2020, KSDE hasn’t issued any directive to close Kansas schools nor has the Kansas State Board of Education directed KSDE to waive any education requirements because of COVID-19.

As of noon today, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in any Kansas’ schools. Should this change, KSDE has updated its guidance for Kansas schools to include the following:

• Schools with staff or students who have traveled outside of the United States as of Feb. 25, 2020, and until all travel bans are lifted, should check in with their local public health department about their travel history, and follow the guidance from the public health department regarding isolation or quarantine measures.

• If a local health department, in cooperation with KDHE, the president of the United States or the Kansas governor, requires the closure of a school because of COVID-19, schools will have three options:
1. Make up the missed school days by June 30, 2020.
2. Submit a proposal to KSDE for the delivery of e-learning to be counted as seat time.
3. Submit a petition to the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas Commissioner of Education to waive the legally required minimum number of hours and days schools must be in session.

• In order to be approved for the delivery of e-learning, schools will have to meet a list of requirements developed by KSDE, which will be distributed to districts in the updated guidance. These requirements include, but are not limited to:
1. Student attendance is tracked and monitored to ensure compulsory attendance laws are followed.
2. Ensure students and teachers have sufficient access to the internet, hardware or software in their homes.
3. Interventions are available to address student academic, attendance and behavior needs.
4. Special education, English learners, migrant and homeless services are provided in adherence to state/federal law and guidance.

• If a school is required to close due to COVID-19, the requirement from KDHE is that the school must be closed for a minimum of 14 days following the decision, after which time the communal spread of the virus will be reassessed before the school is cleared to reopen. During this mandated closure, schools will be required to conduct a deep cleaning of the building.

• If a local school district decides independently (without the recommendation of KDHE and the local health department, the president or the governor) to close schools, the schools would be required to make up all lost time by June 30, 2020.

• KDHE recommends that anyone returning from travel to known “hot spots” for the virus and who have had no known direct exposure to someone with the virus should check in with their local public health department, monitor their health and maintain social distancing.

• Neither KSDE nor schools have the authority to quarantine anyone who isn’t exhibiting any signs of illness.

For the most updated information on COVID-19, we continue to direct you to the KDHE website: www.kdheks.gov.

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.