USD 460 General Updates...
September 24, 2020
Last week, we sent an update (see the 9.17 update below) to be “On Alert” for a possible move to the Green Zone within the USD 460 Gating Criteria. We have seen most of our gating metrics in the Green for the past three weeks, and this week all gating metrics are Green. Our current plan is to move to the Green Zone on Tuesday, September 29. This decision is in collaboration with the Harvey County Health Department and our informal advisory group of community health care professionals. It is important to note that if our numbers do change significantly between now and Tuesday, we could remain Yellow and will communicate if that is the case.
Our planned move to Green impacts our middle and high school students most significantly. For 7-8thgrade, a move to Green means these students will return to the middle school building. We have been bussing them to Cross Wind Conference Center each day, which has been working fine. However, there are many advantages to bringing them back to the middle school, and if the data suggests it is appropriate to do so, we feel it is important to get them back in the middle school environment.
For high school students, we return to a full day schedule for all kids beginning Tuesday. Currently, we are operating an AM/PM schedule, where half of our students attend in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. The Green Zone allows all students to attend all day, and we will implement our regular academic schedule.
While we are happy that our numbers allow this transition, everyone needs to be “On Alert” that a move back to Yellow could occur at any time. We want to make certain that we can continue to provide students with the opportunity to come to school each day and participate in the activities they enjoy. So, we will continue all fundamental safety practices and ask everyone to continue following common sense mitigation strategies anytime you are on campus.
We have no known positive cases of COVID-19 in our school district. We have seen some absences for what we define as COVID-related concerns, but that number has remained low. We classify COVID-related absenteeism as follows:
- Positive COVID test OR
- Awaiting the result of a COVID test OR
- Mandatory Quarantine OR
- Fever (100+) and one symptom of COVID OR
- 2 or more symptoms of COVID OR
- No symptoms but choosing to remain home due to a household contact or potential close contact being tested (while waiting for the test result)
Below you will find data related to our gating criteria metrics from late August through September 22 (click here for a color-coded version). Please note the table below will not read well on a mobile device, but the link above should work fine.
|2 Week Trend Comparison||Steady (-1)||Steady (+2)||Declining (-27)||Declining (-35)||Declining (-9)||Declining|
We want to thank everyone for your patience and flexibility as we work to make the best decisions possible related to our learning environments. The safety of our students and staff remains our top priority, and we need to be prepared should a move back to Yellow be necessary. We like to refer to “Agility” as the word of the day. Because we have been in a hybrid model for a while, we should be more agile than if we had started in Green from the beginning of the year. Again, thank you for your support through the early stages of this school year, one that is like no other we have experienced.
If you have any questions or concerns about our plans, please reach out to one of our administrators. You can find all contact information, along with all of the ways to stay informed on district news, by clicking here.
September 17, 2020
Start of the School Year
We have gotten off to a great start to the new school year. There have been some logistical challenges early, but we are working through those. While it has been a great start, we know there are imperfections. We will continue to work to improve our processes and greatly appreciate everyone’s patience as we do so. Below are a few topics that require additional information and clarity, and please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school if you have questions.
This a reminder that we made an adjustment to our school calendar. September 21 is now an attendance day, and all students in K-12 should plan to attend school on this day. September 28 is now a professional development day for staff, and there will be no school on that day. So, no students will attend school on September 28.
Gating Criteria and Learning Environment
We began the school year in our Yellow Zone of the USD 460 Gating Criteria. Over the past few weeks, we have seen positive trends in our county COVID-19 data, and in collaboration with the Harvey County Health Department and local medical professionals, we are positioned to consider a possible timeline to transition to our Green Zone of the gating criteria. So, we want to put everyone “On Alert” that we could move to Green as early as Tuesday, September 29. We want to make sure our numbers continue to trend in a positive direction, so we are not ready to commit to this move just yet, but we will communicate early next week on a possible date (not before September 29) to move to Green if our numbers stay steady. We check county numbers each Friday, and below is a look at how the numbers have changed over the past few weeks.
|2 Week Trend Comparison||Steady (-1)||Steady (+2)||Declining (-27)||Declining (-35)|
While our Positivity Rate is in the Yellow as of last Friday, we have seen that number drop to about 5% this week, as the county is utilizing KDHE data for this measure. As stated, we will continue to monitor these numbers and will communicate next week, should we determine it is time to move to Green.
Should we determine that it is appropriate to move to the Green Zone, it is important to understand what this means for each building. For HES, there is not much that changes from what we are currently doing, but there are significant changes for the middle and high school.
For 7-8th grade, a move to Green means these students will return to the middle school building. We have been bussing them to Cross Wind Conference Center each day, which has been working fine. However, there are many advantages to bringing them back to the middle school, and if the data suggests it is appropriate to do so, we feel it is important to get them back in the middle school environment.
For high school students, we would return to a full day schedule for all kids. Currently, we are operating an AM/PM schedule, where half of our students attend in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. The Green Zone allows all students to attend all day, and we would implement our regular academic schedule.
It is important to note that while we are considering moving to Green, we will continue our Fundamental Practices of social distancing, hand hygiene, wearing masks, and asking everyone to stay home when sick and follow our COVID guidelines. It is also important to remain flexible. We know that even while numbers are trending in a positive direction, and we need to consider moving to Green, we also need to be ready to change back to Yellow, should conditions require us to do so.
Remote Learning Logs
When we first discussed remote learning over the summer, we were told by the Kansas State Department of Education that we needed students to complete daily learning logs that track how much time each student spends on school-related activities each day. We learned this week that these learning logs are no longer necessary. However, we do need all parents to complete a Statement of Assurances, and you can find that document linked here. It is important that all parents sign and return this form. We know that at any point any student could become a remote learning student, should he or she need to stay home for a period of time. We will also send a hard copy of this document home with your child and ask that you complete the document and have your child return it to school.
Because we knew there would be significant adjustments to our operations with the Hybrid learning environment, we decided to create a menu of mostly cold food the first few weeks of school. This allowed our food service department to adjust to new procedures but ensure there was enough time to prepare food and deliver to the appropriate locations. We are now transitioning our menus to regular hot food items and will have that in place by the last week of September. We appreciate everyone’s patience and look forward to expanding our menu over the next couple of weeks.
We sent out a note recently that the USDA has provided funding, which allows all students in K-12 public schools to receive free meals. It is important to note that if a student selects a la carte items or purchases an additional milk, that is charged to the child’s account. These are options at the middle and high school, so please talk to your child if you prefer they not purchase extra items. It is still important for anyone who qualifies for free and reduced lunch to fill out that application, as we will go back to regular lunch status once the federal funding runs out.
We are also adjusting to new procedures related to activities and spectator events and appreciate everyone’s willingness to follow our expectations. We will continue to adjust procedures and communicate these adjustments to ensure we are creating the best environment possible. This includes our fundamental practices of social distancing as much as possible, hand hygiene, and wearing a mask. While we’ve done a pretty good job so far, we can probably do these things better, so we are tweaking some of our procedures this week to better promote our mitigation practices, which will allow us to continue to provide these activities for our kids. You will receive additional details about specific events from your child’s respective building administration and the activities department.
Communication and Quick Reference Guide
We have been in school for a couple of weeks now, and so far, we have had no confirmed positive COVID cases since the year started. It is important to know how the school district plans to communicate should we have a positive case. We do plan to communicate general information to all families anytime there is a positive case in the district. For those students who may have a greater likelihood of exposure to a positive case, we will communicate more specific information with those families in accordance with Harvey County Health Department procedures.
Also, we want to make sure everyone has access to our COVID Quick Reference Guide, which provides guidance to families related to different scenarios you may encounter. These scenarios include when your child may present symptoms or may have exposure to a positive case. It also details options when a potential close contact or household members is being tested and what to do while waiting for a test result.
September 4, 2020
FOOD SERVICE UPDATE
The USDA has approved FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH FOR ALL STUDENTS through the end of December or until federal funding is depleted. Your child(ren) will not be charged for any meals until further notice. If you use our auto-pay lunch program, we will not process any payments until January 1, 2021 or until federal funds run out.
If your child is full-pay or reduced status, they will temporarily be moved to free status. There will be no charges made to the students account through the end of December or until federal funds are depleted. At that time, all students will return to their original lunch status and charged accordingly.
It remains a requirement to complete meal applications and disclosure forms to apply for free and reduced meals and other fees. That does not change with this temporary shift to free status for all students.
If you have any questions, please contact USD 460 superintendent, Ben Proctor, at email@example.com or call the District Office at 620-327-4931 ext. 3002.
September 4, 2020
FOOTBALL GAME UPDATE
We have gotten off to a good start to the 2020-21 school year. We will continue to fine-tune our logistics and operations, but overall, things have gone very well. Thank you for all you are doing to make this unique school year a successful one.
Tonight we host our first large event. Our high school football game begins at 7:00 pm at Hobbs Stadium and will be live-streamed through the Swather Sports Network. Additionally, we have limited home tickets available, allowing for approximately 25% of our overall stadium capacity. If you are interested in purchasing tickets for tonight's game or other upcoming events, you can find that information by clicking here. You will find additional information about spectator expectations for all of our sporting events by clicking here.
If you attend the football game in person, please plan to follow our fundamental health and safety expectations including washing or sanitizing your hands frequently and maintaining social distancing. We have reduced our attendance capacity to make sure everyone can socially distance.
Our mask policy is very simple, we ask that you wear a mask at all times other than when you are in your seat. When you arrive and as you move about the stadium, we ask that you wear your mask. Once you find your seat, feel free to remove your mask at that time. If you get up to go to the restroom, concession stand, or anywhere else in the stadium, please wear your mask. We appreciate it.
We are grateful that our young people get to come to school each day and participate in the activities they enjoy. Thank you again for all you do to make that happen.
August 25, 2020
The Board of Education approved the USD 460 Back to School Plan on Monday, August 24. The plan uses Google slides software, which is also accessible through the slides mobile application, and the easiest way to view the plan is to click on Present. We have also summarized our Gating Criteria and created a Summary of the Plan.
On Thursday, we will host a Community Meeting at 6:00 pm at Hesston High School and will stream through the Swather Sports Network. At this meeting, we will discuss the details of our Gating Criteria, which is a guide that will help us determine what school should look like based on COVID-19 data in Harvey County. You can find the presentation guide for Thursday's meeting by clicking here.
We plan to begin the school year in the YELLOW ZONE, and you can find details of what that means by reviewing the two pages in the Gating Criteria, or refer to pages 8-9 of the Back to School Plan.
Yellow means that our students at Hesston Elementary will attend school each day from 8:00 am until 3:15 pm at the elementary school. The HES staff has worked hard to implement our Fundamentals of Safety (p. 6 in the Back to School Plan) into their plans and have reworked schedules to support our mitigation strategies.
At the middle school, 5-6th graders will attend school at HMS each day from 8:00 am until 3:15 pm. 7-8th graders will begin their day at HMS at 8:00 am but will be bussed to Cross Wind Conference Center (8036 Hoover Rd.) and will return by 3:15 pm each day for regular dismissal. You can see additional information on the Hybrid schedules at HMS on pages 77-80 of our Back to School Plan.
At the high school, we will follow an AM/PM schedule, where approximately half of our students attend in-person classes at school in the morning and half attend in the afternoon. The school day begins at 8:00 am for AM students and lunch will be served from 11:26-11:56 am for all students. The PM students will then attend class from 11:56-3:25 pm. You can see more information on the HHS Hybrid model on pages 81-82 of the Back to School Plan, and the HHS office will communicate soon as to which students are AM and which are PM.
Any student may choose to participate in Remote Learning, and we are working to schedule student/parent training sessions for Remote Learning. Our target is to conduct these sessions the week of August 31, and we will share specific dates and times during our Community Meeting on Thursday evening. The training sessions will be available in-person and through Zoom.
Again, we plan to share much more information during our Community Meeting on Thursday at 6:00 pm and will also take time to answer any and all questions. The meeting will be recorded, so you can view anytime. If you plan to attend the meeting in person, please call our District Office at 620-327-4931 ext. 3000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 20, 2020
It has been a week since we held our most recent Community Meeting providing updates to our Back to School Plan and procedures. Currently, we are updating and finalizing our plans as our September 2 school start date nears.
On the evening of Monday, August 24, the Board of Education will discuss and take action on our Back to School Plan. The plan will include the Gating Criteria we will utilize in our district to determine what school will look like, specifically whether we will be On-Site, Hybrid, or Remote. We are finalizing that criteria now and will send it out to our entire school community on Tuesday, August 25. We had hoped to get that information out this week but need just a bit more time to finalize our plans.
In addition, the Back to School Plan will include details of our Fundamentals of Safety, an overview of our entire Operations Plan based on a new color-coded model we have developed, and specifics related to our Hybrid and Remote Learning Environments.
Finally, we will host a follow-up Community Meeting on Thursday, August 27 at 6:00 pm at HHS. This will be available through limited in-person attendance, and we will also stream the meeting through the Swather Sports Network. If you would like to attend in-person, please send me an email at email@example.com or call our District Office at 620-327-4931. This meeting will tackle building-specific topics and a team of administrators and teachers will be present to share plans for HES, HMS, and HHS.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we make final preparations for the new school year. Our staff has been working hard over the past week to prepare for all contingencies. This year promises to be unlike any year before it, but our goal remains the same. We are committed to providing a high-quality, positive, and interconnected experience for our kids, no matter the learning environment, while maintaining the safety and well-being of our people as our top priority.
Again, look for a thorough update to our Back to School Plan on Tuesday, August 25 and, as always, if you have any questions or need anything at all, please do not hesitate to call or email anytime.
August 12, 2020
Our next Back to School Community Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 13 at 6:00 pm. This meeting is available through limited in-person attendance in our high school auditorium and will also be live streamed through the Swather Sports Network, and you can find that link here.
The format of the meeting will be a time of sharing the latest on our Back to School Plan, and we will also take the necessary time to answer any and all questions you have. If you plan to view the live stream, we ask that you submit questions through the comment section below the video. We will go through the questions during the meeting and read those aloud so that everyone can hear the question and response.
We will have specific updates on the following items:
- Operations - safety and mitigation strategies for on-site learning and activities
- Hybrid Learning - updates on the development of our hybrid learning environment
- Remote Learning - specifics on our remote option
- Gating Criteria - information on how we will decide the most appropriate learning environment based on local metrics
- Student Options - information on options available to families
- Community Feedback - a look at responses to our parent survey
These are a few of the topics we will cover, and we are committed to answering your questions and concerns. Our entire administrative team will be involved in responding to your questions, in order to provide more specific information from each school building's perspective. You can see our administrative team and contact information by clicking here.
We also plan to host a follow-up community meeting on Thursday, August 27 at 6:00 pm at the HHS auditorium. By that time, our entire staff will have been working for several weeks to finalize our plans, and the details about the start of school will be solidified.
We strongly encourage you to attend the meeting and ask questions, either in-person or through the Swather Sports Network live stream. If you are unable to attend the meeting, we will post the recording on our website. If you plan to attend in-person, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling our District Office at 620-327-4931.
August 10, 2020
We are hosting a Community Meeting this Thursday, August 13, at 6:00 pm. The meeting will be held in the Hesston High School auditorium with limited in-person availability, and it will also be live-streamed through the Swather Sports Network.
The purpose of this meeting is to continue our discussion of the USD 460 Back to School Plan. We will share updates to our plan and take time to answer any and all questions you may have. We will have a follow-up meeting on Thursday, August 27.
We continue to work with the Harvey County Health Department to ensure we follow all health and safety guidelines. An item we will spend time on Thursday evening will be the county gating criteria we will use to determine the most appropriate learning environment, whether it be On-Site, Hybrid, or Remote learning. This model will utilize county-wide data on COVID-19 and will establish thresholds should we need to consider moving from one learning environment to another.
We will also spend considerable time on what each of these learning environments will look like and the options families have to determine the learning environment best for them. While we believe strongly in following fundamental mitigation strategies for On-Site Learning, we also understand there is inherent risk with any sort of in-person activity. Therefore, we want to support all families as they determine the best options for their children this fall.
As a reminder, we are housing a good amount of back to school information on our website, and you can find that link by clicking here. If you haven't done so, we encourage all parents to complete the Back to School Survey, and we will share data from that survey on Thursday evening.
If you would like to attend Thursday's meeting in-person, please send an email to email@example.com or call our District Office at 620-327-4931. We want to ensure we have plenty of space in the auditorium. If you plan to view the live-stream, we will give you instructions Thursday on how to ask questions during the meeting.
July 28, 2020
Today we are releasing information to our families about our preparations for the 2020-21 school year. Our hope is you find this information helpful, but it may seem a bit overwhelming. Hopefully you can take your time as you look through the information over time.
Below are several important links (you can also find these links by clicking Menu and looking under the Back to School Information heading)...
- Linked here is a table with all back to school information in one place.
- Linked here is our 2020-21 District Calendar (approved 7.27.2020). The new school start date is September 2, and this will give our staff additional time to prepare for the start of the school year.
- Linked here is information on enrollment, which will happen on August 6, 2020.
- Linked here is our draft Back to School Plan.
- You can access the plan through google by clicking here, which gives a better view if you are accessing on a mobile device using the google slides app.
Our draft Back to School Plan is a work in progress, and accounts for current guidance, recommendations, and requirements from local and state health and educational agencies. It is broken into an Operations Plan and a Teaching and Learning Plan. The details of this plan will almost certainly change as we progress through August and get closer to the start of school on September 2, but we feel it is important for our families to see plans based on current guidance.
As you read through this information, and as you have time to do so, we ask you to complete a new survey sharing your perspective on our plan and how you are feeling about a return to school for your child(ren). The input from our families will be critical information as our plans further develop over the next several weeks. You will find the link to that survey here, and it is also in the table on the Back to School Update page (linked above).
Thank you for your patience as we work to create the safest and most effective learning environment possible for all students. There is much work to do, and our goal is to communicate effectively and with transparency. We recognize that many in our community will have differing perspectives on the plans and practices we implement. Our goal is to continue to seek guidance from trusted officials to advise us on best practices related to public health and safety.
We must work together for our kids, and we will continue to ask for you patience and understanding as we create the best plan possible based on the information available to us. In the meantime, we encourage you to reach out to our administrative team should you have any questions or concerns about anything related to our district plans. You can find that contact information by clicking here.
Ben Proctor, Superintendent
July 23, 2020
"School Calendar & Back to School Planning"
Last week, Governor Kelly announced her plans to issue Executive Order 20-58, which would have required all school districts in Kansas to begin school on September 9. On Wednesday, the Kansas State Board of Education rejected that order giving the authority to establish a school start date to the local school districts.
Because we have identified the need for additional time for teachers to prepare for the upcoming school year, USD 460 is developing a new calendar with a new start date for 2020-21. Our original start date was August 13, but that will be pushed back allowing teachers additional time to prepare for changes in our operations and in how we approach teaching and learning.
Today and tomorrow, we will present a new calendar to our staff and provide time for feedback and adjustments as needed. On Monday, we plan to present the new calendar to our Board of Education for approval. On Tuesday of next week, we will share that calendar with everyone in the school community. We will also share the draft of our Back to School Plan, which will detail our current thinking around safety and mitigation measures as we begin school.
These past five months have required so much patience, flexibility, and grace on the part of everyone. The decisions we are making now will most certainly be met with a range of opinions and perspectives. Our commitment is to provide the safest and very best learning environment possible, knowing that information is constantly changing and adjustments will need to be made.
Thank you for all of your support and understanding as we navigate the challenges of today. As you receive information on the school calendar and our Back to School Plan next week, we are committed to answering all of your questions and concerns. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me through phone at 620-327-4931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 13, 2020
"Community Information Sessions"
This is a reminder that we are holding three Community Information Sessions this week.
On Tuesday, July 14, we will discuss the possibility of a School Resource Officer (SRO) in Hesston schools. This presentation will include background on the SRO program including presentations by Chief Schroeder and two law enforcement officers, Chief Derrick Ploutz and Sgt. Chris Carter, who each have experience serving as an SRO in schools in Kansas. We will also have Ty Rhodes, our high school principal, and Jill Toews, our middle school counselor, present to share how an SRO could be utilized in our schools from both our principal and counselor perspectives. Additionally, we will share feedback from our Community Conversations held a few weeks ago and provide costs associated with the SRO position. Finally, we will have time for everyone in attendance to ask questions of our guest presenters.
On Wednesday, July 15, we will discuss our school reopening plans as we anticipate what school might look like in August. We plan to have representatives from the Harvey County Health Department with us to discuss their perspective on how we can promote safety and implement mitigation strategies now and as we approach the beginning of school. We will discuss data from our parent and student surveys, along with how we are engaging our staff in our planning. Additionally, we will share perspective from health and educational agencies that are informing our reopening plan and we'll discuss how we plan to navigate ever-changing information as we approach the new school year.
On Thursday, July 16, we will discuss our long-term facilities plan in USD 460. This will be an opportunity to share ideas on what the next few years might look like as we pay off our 20 year bond project in September of 2022. We will look at numbers related to our capital budget and how we could move a conversation forward on a possible new bond project, should the community have interest in doing so. This will be a first opportunity to engage exclusively in a facilities discussion and will likely lead to follow-up work this fall.
Each of these Informational Sessions begin at 6:00 pm and will be held in the Hesston High School auditorium. We ask that everyone please wear a face covering and practice social distancing. We will also provide a link each afternoon to view the presentations online. The links will be accessible through all of our social media platforms, our mobile app, and we will also send an email out through Infinite Campus. If you plan to attend the event, please let us know by calling 620-327-4931 or email email@example.com.
July 2, 2020
"Community Information Sessions"
Last week, we held three Community Conversations and had well over 100 participants attend. Our discussions focused primarily on school reopening and the possibility of a School Resource Officer in Hesston. We also briefly discussed long-term facilities planning during the first two community discussions. We want to continue exploring each of these topics.
We have planned three follow-up informational events for the community. On Tuesday, July 14, we will meet to share information on what a School Resource Officer could look like in USD 460. Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder will be present to share more about the program, and we are working with practicing SRO's to share more about what that role looks like in schools and communities similar to Hesston. The informational session will be held in the Hesston High School auditorium and will begin at 6:00 pm on the 14th.
On Wednesday, July 15, we are hosting an informational session to discuss our plan to return to school in August. We will have officials from the Harvey County Health Department join us for this event. We are also asking our parents and students to complete this survey, which is intended to help our administrators and teachers design the very best reopening plan possible. This event will be held in the Hesston High School auditorium and will begin at 6:00 pm on the 15th.
On Thursday, July 16, we are hosting an informational session to discuss our long-term facilities plan in USD 460. We pay off our 20 year bond in September of 2022, and we are seeking feedback on what we might want to do once that final payment is made. We encourage anyone interested in discussing our school facilities to join us for this event, which will be held in the Hesston High School auditorium beginning at 6:00 pm on the 16th.
If you plan to attend any of the above informational sessions, we ask that you contact our central office by calling 620-327-4931 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We need everyone who plans to attend to notify us. We will make sure to implement physical distancing measures, so we need to know how many participants to expect. We will also expect all attendees to wear masks or face coverings based on guidance from the Harvey County Health Department. Each session will be available to view through Zoom, and we will provide that link on our website and social media platforms soon.
June 24, 2020
Our Community Conversations will take place at the Hesston Elementary 1-2 commons. Please enter through the front doors. We will begin at 6:00 pm.
June 22, 2020
We will host three Community Conversations this week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to discuss important topics related to USD 460. Our primary topic of discussion will be school reopening and how we plan for the start of school in August. We also want to spend some time discussing the possibility of adding a School Resource Officer (SRO) in our district and what the future holds for campus facilities.
We will meet at 6:00 pm in the Hesston Elementary 1-2 Commons (note the location change). These sessions are open to anyone in our school community, and we will provide a zoom link for those who wish to participate remotely. The format of the meetings will be to share a bit of information on the major topics from the school district's perspective, and to spend the majority of our time in smaller group conversations. Our primary objective is to collect feedback from participants.
Although we are hosting three meetings this week, each meeting will cover the same topics. We know people are very busy in the summer, so we wanted to provide ample opportunities for everyone to participate who wishes to do so. We also want to keep our groups fairly small to ensure social distancing.
As a follow up to these sessions, we will provide surveys for all parents and guardians to collect as much feedback as possible over the next several weeks. We will then schedule another round of Community Conversations on July 14, 15, and 16 to provide more specifics on our plans for the fall semester.
We have a good group signed up for our meetings this week, and if you wish to attend a session, please call our office at 620-327-4931 or email email@example.com and let us know which day works best.
June 10, 2020
After several months of working through school closure and our continuous learning plan, it is now time to turn our attention to reopening school in August. An important part of that process is working together, as an entire school community, to put the very best plan in place to ensure everyone feels comfortable and safe returning to school.
We would like to invite you to participate in a series of Community Conversations around reopening our schools and other important topics related to USD 460. The first round of meeting opportunities will be June 23, 24, and 25. We have three sessions scheduled because we know the summer is very busy. Each of these sessions will begin at 6:00 pm and will be held in the Hesston Elementary 1-2 Commons (note the location change). We will also make the meetings available through zoom and will provide a link for you to attend virtually. Each of these meetings will cover the same topics, so you only need to attend one if you wish to participate. We will then have follow-up sessions on July 14, 15, and 16, which will also be held at 6:00 pm.
There are three primary topics we wish to discuss at these meetings. First, we want to share ideas on safely reopening our schools. This will be an opportunity for you to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns, so our staff and Board of Education can make decisions based on staff, parent, and community feedback. One of our closest partners in this decision-making process is the Harvey County Health Department, and we will continue to share plans based on their recommendations and guidance.
A second topic we wish to discuss is the possible hiring of a School Resource Officer. Chief Schroeder applied for a grant that would provide considerable funding for this position, and we are also looking at a partnership with the City of Hesston to split the costs. This has been a long-term goal in our district for quite some time, and we want to engage our entire school community on what this role could mean for our students and the overall safety of our schools. We have not made a final decision on hiring an SRO, and feedback from our school community will be a key aspect of that decision-making process.
Finally, we would like to discuss our long-term facilities plan. Our current bond payment on a project from 2002 is paid off in September of 2022. It is important to discuss what the end of that bond payment means for our community and what our next steps are to ensure our facilities remain good condition.
The format of our meetings will be to share some information with you, but we want to spend most of our time engaged in small group discussions. This will allow us to maximize feedback on our ideas, especially in the June meetings. We will then come back in July to talk about specific plans moving forward based on the feedback we receive in June.
If you plan to attend any of these sessions, please call or email Ben Proctor at 620-327-4931 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This will help us get an idea of what to expect in terms of numbers of participants. Based on recommendations from the Harvey County Health Department, we will ensure social distancing standards are met for these meetings. As always, please holler if you have any questions or need any further information on anything at all.
May 14, 2020
As we close out this school year, our attention begins to turn to the summer and student activities. Our staff pays close attention to local and state guidelines, specifically health and safety guidelines through the Harvey County Health Department, Governor Kelley's office, and the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), which is our governing body for school sponsored activities and sports.
These guidelines currently allow students to participate in summer strength and conditioning programs beginning June 1. Our administrative team and coaches are working to plan strength and conditioning sessions that offer the safest environment possible, and the current details of our plan can be found by clicking here.
Coach Tyson Bauerle, our Head Football Coach and our Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, will communicate with students and parents going into grades 7-12 about the summer program, including the schedule and further detail on the safety measures being put into place for the summer sessions.
We recognize that our kids need an opportunity to enjoy the normal activities that come with summer, and strength and conditioning along with various camps, open-gym opportunities, and competitions are part of that experience. According to current county and local guidelines, there are allowances for those activities to resume based on specific dates included in the phase-in plans outlined in the links above.
We also recognize that our students and parents will have concerns and hesitancies related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and although we will create the safest environment possible, we cannot guarantee the safety that one's own home environment provides.
Because we desire to create the best plan possible for summer activities, we would like to hear back from our parents. Linked here is a brief survey and opportunity for you, as a parent of an incoming 7-12th grade student, to share feedback with our administrative team and coaches, based on the details of our Summer Activities Plan. We will continue to develop our plan between now and June 1 and will utilize information from the survey, from other school districts, and from local and state health agencies to establish all necessary safeguards and safety protocols.
We want to stress that our Summer Activities Plan meets all current requirements of the Harvey County Health Department, the Governor's Plan to Re-Open Kansas, and KSHSAA Summer Guidelines. The plan has been submitted to the Harvey County Health Department for review and has been approved based on current local and state guidelines. If dates are changed within the county or statewide phase-in plan, we will adjust our dates accordingly and communicate with you on those changes.
We hope you will take the time to complete the survey and feedback form, and please always feel free to email email@example.com or call 620-327-4931, should you have questions or concerns about this topic or any other matter related to USD 460.
Ben Proctor, Superintendent
April 29, 2020
The word unprecedented is often used to describe the current circumstances related to education and just about every other aspect of society. We have never seen a disruption to our daily lives like that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools look much different than they ever have before, and although educators and families have made the very best of the situation, we all recognize a need to look forward, to something better.
We will most certainly face incredible challenges in the weeks and months ahead, as we work together in our local communities to safely re-establish our way of life. As educators, we recognize the incredible role our school systems play in this process. We know there are many questions and concerns on the minds of parents, students, staff, and every person impacted by the closure of our schools. Our commitment is to tackle each of these questions and concerns and to thoughtfully and diligently navigate new challenges in a way that makes safety the top priority for all.
Soon, we will close out this school year and transition to summer. Closure includes recognizing the successes of our students, particularly those of the graduating class of 2020. In an effort to determine the very best way to honor our graduates, Mr. Rhodes has worked with a group of students and staff to develop several different plans, each depending on the options we will have according to state and local health officials. These plans will be shared soon and will undoubtedly represent the very best ideas available to us. In addition, Mr. Heinrichs and a middle school team are working to create similar plans for 8th grade promotion.
We so appreciate everyone's patience, flexibility, and the grace you have extended and continue to extend as we close out this school year. Our administrative team is gearing up to plan for August and a return to school. We know there will be adjustments based on our response to the pandemic, but we are optimistic that we will have students and staff back in our buildings in August. In order to safely return to an in-person educational model, there is much to be considered, and it will require a great deal of collaboration and feedback with our families, staff, and the entire school community. Opportunities for this type of collaboration will be presented soon, and we look forward to meeting our new challenges head-on and with the collective wisdom and unique experiences of the people of Hesston.
There is a lot we do not currently know, but we are optimistic that the picture of what the next few months will look like will become clearer as we move into May. We will use the very best information available to us and rely on health and educational experts to plan accordingly. As we work through that planning process, we will remain committed to communication with our entire school community and committed to receiving feedback on how our plans are evolving.
Thank you for all you do to support our kids in Hesston. This is an incredible community, and we will become better because of the way we meet this challenge together. Please do not hesitate to call or email anytime you have questions or concerns, and we look forward to better days ahead.
April 8, 2020
Over the past few weeks, we have settled into a much different approach to school than we are accustomed to. It's been challenging in many ways, and we appreciate all of the patience and understanding our school community has shown us during this transition to distance learning.
We want to take just a moment to update you on a few important items and also ask for your feedback on how things are going so far.
Food Service: We will continue to offer breakfast and lunch to anyone 18 years and younger in our community. We serve each Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from our middle school gymnasium parking lot from 11:00 am until 12:30 pm. Because they were days scheduled to be off from school, we will not provide meals on Friday, April 10 or Monday, April 13 (we will serve on Thursday, April 9). We will resume our regular schedule on Tuesday, April 14 and plan to serve each Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for the remainder of the spring semester. If you have not signed up for meals, but would like to do so, please complete this form.
Technology Support: We have distributed many devices to students over the past few weeks. With this, we know there are going to be technical challenges, and we are committed to responding to any tech issues you are having right away. Please complete the Technology Support Form if you are having any issues with your device. We will get back with you as soon as possible.
No Home Internet Service: If you have limited or no internet service at your home, we will deliver hard copy materials to you. This service provides delivery each Monday and pick-up each Friday. We also have WiFi access at our stadium parking lot that runs through our network filters and is accessible for all students. There is a plan through Cox Communications that some families in our community have taken advantage of.
Continuous Learning Plan: Our approach to distance learning this spring is called the District Continuous Learning Plan. To see an overview of this plan and look at descriptions at each grade level or content area, please click here. Our Board of Education approved this plan on Monday, April 6 and it was submitted to the Kansas State Department of Education on Tuesday, April 7 as part of our required process to continue schooling for this spring semester.
Staying Informed: We are committed to providing ongoing communication to the entire school community, and linked here you will find ways we will communicate throughout the spring semester. We are also working towards establishing an official district facebook page and hope to have that process completed soon. If you haven't downloaded our new Hesston Swather mobile app, you can learn more about that feature by clicking here.
Staying Connected: One of the most critical parts of our Continuous Learning Plan is staying connected with every single student in our district. Our teachers are committed to providing the very best learning opportunities possible, and this all starts with student connections and participation. If we begin to lose connection with our students, we are going to be proactive in making phone calls to parents to make sure everything is ok. Please continue to encourage your children to stay connected with their teachers throughout the spring semester.
Feedback: We believe it is critical to hear back from our families about our Continuous Learning Plan. This includes feedback on how we are communicating and how your experience learning from home is going. Please take just a few minutes to provide your perspective on how things are going through these first few weeks of this transition. You will find the Parent Implementation Survey by clicking here.
Our priority is to provide you with the very best communication, support, and service during a time of uncertainty and unprecedented changes to how we operate as a school district. Our staff is working hard to make the most of this new challenge, but we know it is difficult for everyone. So, if you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to let us know how we can help. Our central office is open during the day, so feel free to call 620-327-4931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
April 3, 2020
Although our buildings are closed for the spring, we are going to give our very best effort to embrace a new approach to teaching and learning in Hesston Schools. We will stay connected to our students while working to create authentic learning experiences that focus on essential competencies for each grade level and content area. Our District Continuous Learning Plan will develop over time and will emphasize interaction, creativity, service, and family involvement. It will not be perfect, but we will make the most of the challenge put before us.
On Monday, April 6, the Board of Education will discuss an overview of our District Continuous Learning Plan and look at how the plan is progressing in the earliest stages. We will analyze our Continuous Learning Principles and make sure our approach to teaching and learning this spring are appropriate for these unprecedented times.
You can see an overview of our plan by clicking here, and you can view our CLP principles below.
- We will emphasize relationships, connections, and support for ALL kids.
- We will focus on what is essential for kids to learn and “do less really well.”
- We will extend grace to all and remain flexible throughout the spring.
- We will use materials, resources, and platforms familiar to teachers and students.
- We will establish a framework of expectations and accountability for students.
- We will take a team approach to our work.
As always, if you need anything at all, please contact Ben Proctor at email@example.com or call the central office at 620-327-4931.
March 28, 2020
Earlier today, Governor Kelly issued a statewide "stay home" order beginning on Monday, March 30. You might wonder what impact this executive order has on our school operations including our plan to distribute personal belongings and technology devices on Monday.
After consulting with the Harvey County Health Department and the Kansas State Department of Education, we plan to follow our regularly scheduled item pick-up and distribution at each building on Monday, March 30. Nothing has changed about this plan, and you can view the schedule for each building by clicking the links above.
We would also like you to know that we are changing our food service program schedule a bit for the coming week and the rest of the spring. Beginning the week of Monday, March 30, we are going to serve lunch and breakfast on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of each week.
We will continue to serve five lunches and five breakfasts each week, but we will distribute meals for two days on Tuesday and Thursday. For example, on Tuesday, you will receive a lunch for Tuesday, a breakfast and lunch for Wednesday, and a breakfast for Thursday. We appreciate everyone's participation in the food service program. We distributed 963 lunches and 963 breakfasts last week.
As always, if you need anything at all, please contact Ben Proctor at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the central office at 620-327-4931.
March 25, 2020
Below are updates on a variety of topics related to school closure and our Continuous Learning Plan.
FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH: Every child 18 years and under is eligible for a free breakfast and lunch. Currently, we serve out of our middle school from 11:00 am until 12:30 pm each day. We also deliver to those in need of that service. You can sign up for food for your children by clicking here. We will continue to offer this program through late May, but it could look a little different over time, and we will communicate any changes to you.
TECHNOLOGY NEEDS: Please let us know if your child needs a technology device and/or if you do not have internet access at home. You can do this by completing the Technology Needs form linked here. It is not necessary that every child in the home has his or her own device, but if you have multiple children, having multiple devices will be helpful. We will get those to you on Monday, March 30, which is addressed just below.
TECHNOLOGY DEVICE & PERSONAL BELONGINGS PICKUP: We will distribute technology devices and personal belongings on Monday, March 30. You can find each building's schedule and directions for personal belongings pick-up and technology device pick up by clicking the links below.
- March 30 - Hesston Elementary School
- March 30 - Hesston Middle School
- March 30 - Hesston High School
NEW WEBSITE AND MOBILE APPLICATION: We had planned to switch to our new website this summer but feel it will help us better communicate with our community now. So, we made the switch. This new platform is much more mobile friendly for those who receive most of their information on their mobile device. We also now have a mobile application, which you can download from the App Store or Google Play Store by searching Hesston Swathers. We will get some tutorials on how to use the app, but it will allow us to push out information to our community and provide you with district and building-specific information in an effort to streamline our communication. You will find a short instructional video on the new mobile app by clicking here, and you will find a visual tutorial by clicking here.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS: We have compiled some commonly asked questions and provided answers to those questions. You can access that information by clicking here. Some of the answers change as days go by, and we will work to keep this page updated as we learn new information or establish new procedures and protocols.
CONTINUOUS LEARNING PLAN: The Continuous Learning Plan is our approach to schooling for the remainder of this school year. We established Phase I last week, which involves teachers making initial connections with students. Connections will continue to be a focus for us all spring. Phase II involves a transition to teaching and learning, and this process will be gradual and flexible. Beginning Monday, March 30, your child can expect to begin receiving some communication from his or her teachers about what school will look like. It will feel a bit like "back to school" time where expectations and procedures are communicated, but it is important to know that this transition will take time. Elementary teachers will primarily use Class Dojo, while middle and high school teachers will use Google Classroom as a primary communication tool. Kansas Family Guide to the Continuous Learning Plan.
CONTINUOUS LEARNING PLAN PHILOSOPHIES: For over a week, USD 460 has had a team of teachers and administrators working on our District Continuous Learning Plan. As part of that process, we developed philosophies that will support the implementation of the plan. We want to share these philosophies with our families and students to help all of us partner with one another through this new approach to school. Our Continuous Learning Plan philosophies are:
- Emphasize relationships, connections, and support for ALL kids.
- Less is More! Focus on what is essential for kids to learn and “do less really well.”
- Extend grace to all and remain flexible throughout the spring.
- Work to use materials, resources, and platforms familiar to teachers and students.
- Establish a consistent framework of expectations and accountability for students while recognizing the challenges we are all facing right now.
- Provide ongoing instructional and technology support.
- This plan is not going to require students to sit in front of screens all day!
- A team approach is crucial to the success of our Continuous Learning Plan, and our teams include teachers, students, and parents/guardians.
As always if you have questions, contact Superintendent Ben Proctor at 620-327-4931 or email email@example.com.
March 18, 2020 - Community Update
USD 460 Families,
Earlier today, you should have received an email from your child's principal with some information on a variety of topics. We have a new team in our district called the Continuous Learning Team, which is a group of teachers and administrators tasked with developing a plan for how we can best support student learning this spring. The team held its first virtual meeting this morning and we decided that the first phase of our plan is to connect with you and your children. Over the next week, our teachers will communicate with their students in a few different ways but the focus is on connection, touching base, and just checking in with one another.
Over the next couple of weeks, our Continuous Learning Team will work towards a second phase of our plan, which will be more of an academic focus, but we are not ready to move in that direction just yet. We want to connect first.
We know closing schools to our normal everyday functions creates so many hardships, and all of us are recognizing just how much our schools mean to each one of us. There are immediate needs in our community, and below are a few forms that will help us identify these needs and how we can best support families at this time.
We are going to begin serving breakfast and lunch to our students or any child in our community ages 1-18 on Monday, March 23. If you are interested in learning more and would like to sign up for drive-through or delivery service, please click the following link to share important information with us: Lunch and Breakfast Form
In order to move forward towards a new approach to teaching and learning, technology will play an important role. If you need technology support, specifically a school-issued device for your child or if you do not have home internet access, please complete the following form so we can help you with those issues: Technology Needs Form
As always, please let me know if you have any questions on anything at all, and we'll be back in touch very soon. Feel free to call our central office at 620-327-4931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 17, 2020 - Coronavirus Update including School Closure Information
Today, March 17, 2020 Governor Laura Kelly announced the closure of school facilities to normal daily functions for the remainder of the school year. This will place tremendous hardship on our families and staff, and impact the well-being of our students.
We have been working on contingency plans since mid-March, including how we can meet the ongoing learning needs of our students and provide breakfast and lunch for our students. Our Continuous Learning Team will be working on this plan over the next couple of weeks as we work towards communicating with our families.
Our staff and board of education are also working on other critical issues, such as what this means for our graduating seniors, how this will affect next school year and what impact this will have on our employees. We will provide updates on these issues as soon as the information is available.
We are committed to working together as a community to support one another throughout these unprecedented times, and communication will remain a top priority. We will provide ongoing updates on this webpage.
There will be much more information to come, but we will plan to serve lunch and breakfast to all children who need it beginning Monday. We are also in discussions about how we can best support childcare needs in our community as well. We know there are many needs in our community and our school district is committed to serving the community.
As a reminder, this school closure is in response to the current public health crisis. The focus should remain on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is also referred to.
Please be mindful of the following:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing (cough/sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue).
- Please keep sick children at home.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Follow additional guidance from these sources:
March 15, 2020 - Coronavirus Update
Late this afternoon, KSDE in coordination with the Governor’s office, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and many other educational agencies in the state provided new recommendations for Kansas schools. This includes a strong recommendation that all schools who are not on spring break close this week, March 16-20. We are already on break for the coming week.
As these recommendations apply to Hesston USD 460, we will have no activity on our campus this week other than essential personnel only. Essential personnel in this situation are defined as custodial and operations staff who will focus on deep cleaning in buildings and our Health Advisory Team who will be working to coordinate our short and long-term contingency plans.
We know this is not ideal for anyone, but it is necessary to ensure we accomplish our goal of “flattening the curve.” There are no known cases of the Coronavirus in our schools, but aggressive social distancing measures, good hygiene practices like handwashing, and deep cleaning of facilities are essential at this critical time in dealing with this unprecedented and historical event.
KSHSAA has suspended spring activities including practices through March 22. HRCE (recreation) activities have also been canceled for the week. Our hope is to know more about long-term plans by the middle of the week.
Ben Proctor, Superintendent
March 14, 2020 - Coronavirus Preparedness
Earlier this month USD 460 convened our Health Advisory Team to discuss our district’s level of preparedness for potential instances of the Coronavirus. As part of this process, we identified important partners and essential resources that will help guide our decision-making during a time of rapidly changing information related to the Coronavirus.
Over the past week, and especially in the past day or two, we have seen many organizations, events, and everyday parts of our lives canceled or disrupted. Schools are a place where many people gather each day, and therefore, we are an organization that must evaluate the most appropriate steps moving forward to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus. In doing so, we will continue to rely heavily on state and local health agencies to make important decisions.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the Harvey County Health Department, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are critical resources for USD 460 as we make decisions moving forward. Our Health Advisory Team receives daily updates from agency partners and discusses how we will communicate should our everyday operations be disrupted.
Currently, we are advised to continue to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses through common sense actions such as staying home when sick and washing hands frequently. Our operations team is being extra diligent and attentive to disinfecting hard surfaces, door handles, and other areas that are touched often. We will continue to follow and promote these common sense practices.
We are committed to making certain our kids and our staff feel safe at school. There is potential for people of all ages, the little ones and big ones alike, to feel scared, anxious, or a wide range of other emotions as they see events canceled and hear more about the spread of the virus. Although we must remain vigilant, it is not a time to panic, but it is a time to stay informed and exercise discernment based on factual and reliable information.
We will accomplish this through daily collaboration with health agency partners at the state and local levels. We will practice situational awareness at all times. We will promote common sense practices that slow the spread of respiratory illness. We will know what to do if there is a case of Coronavirus in our region, or community, or school. If there is a need to close school for a time, we will do that too in collaboration with our state and local health agencies and other community partners.
As of today, state agencies are not recommending we close schools unless our local health agencies in collaboration with state health authorities advise us to do so. There are guidelines we will follow promoting good hygiene and social distancing at school, and we will provide more guidance on this during spring break.
We do know school closure is a possibility, so we want our families to be prepared if that were to happen. Our goal at this point is to plan for all contingencies including how our schools could support childcare needs, food service needs, and other needs in our community.
We are scheduled for spring break next week. I will be in the office throughout spring break, and we will closely monitor all developments related to the Coronavirus over the break. Should we need to make decisions related to school after spring break, we will communicate accordingly.
We hope everyone enjoys spring break spending quality time with family. Should you have questions or concerns over the break, please feel free to call our office next week at 620-327-4931 or email email@example.com anytime.
For up-to-date information, click here for the KDHE Coronavirus Resource Center or the CDC Website. Additionally, we will keep this web page updated as we receive new information and make important decisions about school and events.
Ben Proctor, Superintendent
March 4, 2020
The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority, and we want to share with everyone in our community that our school district is well-aware of the Coronavirus concern in our country.
According to the CDC, the risk of contracting the Coronavirus remains low, and there have been no confirmed cases in our state or community. However, USD 460 is committed to taking forward-thinking steps to keep our students and staff healthy and safe, and that is the primary purpose of this communication.
In collaboration with the Harvey County Health Department (HCHD), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), our district has developed a Preparedness and Response Plan to address the remainder of the cold and flu season along with uncertainty around the Coronavirus situation.
Below are recommendations from the CDC to prevent the spread of respiratory illness:
Students and Staff
- Wash your hand frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Stay home when you are sick and only return to school when there are no signs of fever or other symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Use hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
- Cough into your elbow or sleeve.
- Monitor your children for illness and do not send them to school if symptoms are present.
- Please call the school to report absences and share symptoms to assist school personnel in monitoring the spread of respiratory illnesses.
- Stay informed through this website link and Infinite Campus (IC) communication.
- Ensure systematic and thorough cleaning of hard surfaces, door handles, drinking fountains, etc.
- Provide hand sanitizer stations throughout our buildings.
- Review attendance patterns and communicate with local health agencies if absenteeism seems to be a result of respiratory illnesses.
- Follow our district Continuity of Operations Plan should a large number of staff members need to stay home.
- Partner with local health agencies, such as the Harvey County Health Department.
- Utilize available communication platforms to share updates with staff and families.
- Daily review data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the HCHD.
- Enact our district response plan should there be any confirmed cases of coronavirus in our school district.
USD 460 will remain proactive with our communication as we work closely with various state and local agencies. You can also visit the CDC Coronavirus website by clicking here and the KDHE Coronavirus website by clicking here.
As always, please call our central office at (620) 327-4931 should you have questions on this matter.
USD 460 Nurse