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USD 460 LATEST UPDATES...

April 2, 2021

COVID-19 Update 

Our COVID numbers remain low across the district, and you can see our latest data report below.

Long-Term Facilities Planning

We have a community presentation scheduled for Monday, April 5.  This will be an opportunity to hear about long-term facility planning in USD 460.  You can read more about that opportunity below, and if you cannot make it in-person, we are going to stream the event through the Swather Sports Network.  

Over the past several months, three building-level focus groups have been working to establish needs and priorities at each of our schools. These groups consist of community members, parents, staff, and students. We have an additional focus group evaluating our athletic areas across campus. Each of these focus groups completed their initial work, and we are ready to share their findings with the larger community.

On Monday, April 5, we are hosting an informational session to share needs from each focus group's perspective. We will also look at reports on various aspects of our infrastructure, including needs related to HVAC systems, electrical, plumbing, roofs, and drainage. Our goal is to share our facility and infrastructure needs with the community and determine the best steps forward to address any concerns.

The meeting on April 5 will be held at 6:00 pm in our high school auditorium. There will be limited in-person capacity, and we plan to stream this event via the Swather Sports Network. If you would like to attend this event in-person, please email ben.proctor@usd460.org to reserve a spot.

Respectfully,

Ben Proctor, Superintendent


March 30, 2021

We had a good first week back in our green learning environment, and our COVID-19 numbers continue to trend in the right direction.  We have approximately 8 weeks of school remaining in 2020-21, and our goal is to finish this year in a strong way.  That means keeping our kids in school each day and keeping them engaged in the school and recreational activities they enjoy.

As we analyze the impact of various mitigation strategies we have put in place this year, we want to share a few adjustments we are making this week.  Since the school year began, we have taken all student and staff temperatures upon arrival in a school building.  For those who ride the bus in the morning, we have taken their temps prior to entering the bus.  Based on our experience with this practice and the unlikelihood of a high temperature reading, we are going to discontinue the practice of taking everyone's temperature each morning.  We will continue taking temperatures in the office anytime there is a student or staff member who may not feel well.

Additionally, we are modifying our close contact guidelines to better support our new distancing standard of 3 to 6 feet, which we put in place last week.  In the past, any person within 6 feet of a positive case for 10 minutes or more would need to quarantine, but we have learned there is not much difference in safety and transmission between 3 ft and 6 ft and this will keep more kids in school.  Below is an update on our new close contact guidelines of 3 to 6 feet for school and school-related activities.

  • On Friday, March 19, the CDC changed its distancing guidance to a minimum of 3 feet and subsequently the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Harvey County Health Department (HCHD) updated their guidance accordingly.
  • Based on this new guidance, USD 460 established distancing guidelines of 3 to 6 feet in our schools.
  • If a student is within 6 feet of a positive case for 10 minutes or more but is beyond 3 feet, that student will be able to remain in school as long as all students are wearing masks.
  • We will identify these students as “Monitored Status” and we will communicate with families at the time of identification.
  • Because local health guidelines still call for 6 feet x 10 minutes or more when identifying close contacts (and subsequent quarantine periods), we will advise parents that their child is on “Monitored Status” at school should still quarantine when not involved in school or school-related activities per the HCHD.
  • We will monitor these students for symptoms and ask the student and his or her family to do the same.
  • If any symptoms develop or there is a positive COVID test, that student will then need to stay home based on regular quarantine and/or isolation guidelines.
  • Our school nurses will take the lead on identifying these students, communicating with families, and informing administrators in the applicable building.

In collaboration with health professionals in our community, we believe these adjustments better reflect current knowledge of COVID-19 and our strong desire to keep our kids in school each day.  Additionally, we will implement these changes while also following our fundamental mitigation strategies of washing hands, wearing masks, and encouraging everyone to stay home when sick.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions on anything we do in Hesston schools.  Our district office number is 620-327-4931, and my email address is ben.proctor@usd460.org.

Respectfully,

Ben Proctor, Superintendent


March 26, 2021

You will find our latest COVID-19 weekly report below.


March 19, 2021

Beginning March 22, our schools will operate in our Green learning environment.  This means our 7-8th grade students will return from Cross Wind Conference Center and attend school at HMS all day.  Our high school students will now attend school all day, and we will no longer operate our am/pm hybrid.  Operations at our elementary school will continue as they have since the beginning of the school year.

Our COVID-related absenteeism has remained in Green for several months, and numbers in our region have remained low for quite some time.  Approximately 80% of our staff members are now vaccinated, and we feel now is the right time to resume our regular schedules at HMS and HHS.  

We continue to work with the Harvey County Health Department on new distancing guidance that will allow us to keep our kids in school.  This includes distancing standards of 3 to 6 feet instead of the minimum of 6 feet that we have operated on since the beginning of the school year.  This will limit quarantines due to close contact, and we will continue to closely monitor our students and communicate with parents when necessary.  

We are happy to return to Green and to have all of our middle school students and staff back under one roof and our high school students in school all day.  We will continue following our fundamental mitigation strategies of hand washing, mask wearing, and asking everyone to stay home when sick.  All things considered, we have had a wonderful school year, and our intent is to finish the last 9 weeks in a very strong way.

You will find our latest COVID-19 data report below, and as always, do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or concerns.  Our office number is 620-327-4931 or email ben.proctor@usd460.org.

Respectfully,

Ben Proctor, Superintendent


March 12, 2021

As we enter spring break, we plan to return to school on March 22 in our Green learning environment.  This means high school students will begin attending all day, and our 7-8th graders will return from Cross Wind Conference Center and attend school each day at HMS.  There will be no changes at our elementary school.

You can see updated COVID-19 data below.

We will communicate additional information over spring break.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please email ben.proctor@usd460.org or call 620-327-4931.

Respectfully,

Ben Proctor, Superintendent


March 5, 2021

USD 460 plans to move to our Green Learning Environment on Monday, March 22. This means our 7-8th graders will move from Cross Wind Conference Center back to our middle school, and our high school students will move from the am/pm hybrid schedule to full days at HHS. Our elementary will continue their regular schedule, as they have since the first day of school.

This week marks the 8th straight week that our COVID-related absenteeism has been below 3.0%, which is the threshold for our Green zone (see this week's data report below). We have seen county and regional COVID data decline over the past few months, and combined with a very large percentage of vaccinated staff in USD 460, we believe a return to our regular schedules at HMS and HHS are most appropriate, at this time.

Our commitment since the beginning of this school year has been to keep our students in school every day and to remain engaged in school-related activities. We took an approach that allowed us to accomplish these goals since the first day of school, and we have been a model of consistency with essentially no disruptions to our learning environments since we were last in Green in early October.

When cases of COVID peaked in November, prior to Thanksgiving, we learned that one of the greatest challenges of navigating this pandemic was the number of close contacts who are forced to quarantine due to COVID-19 guidelines. At our peak, we had as many as 130 students and staff out of school at one time. This put incredible strain on our staff, as they worked to facilitate learning for many students who attended in-person and many others who were learning from home.

While the current numbers of absences due to COVID-related reasons are consistently lower than they have been in quite some time, we recognize that moving to Green means a greater likelihood of close contacts based on the current 6 foot distancing standard. We are currently working with the Harvey County Health Department to establish a distancing standard of 3-6 feet, which we can maintain at all buildings and classrooms with only a few exceptions. We are hopeful that our health department will allow us to make this adjustment. Based on our data, we believe the risk of transmission of COVID in our schools is extremely low, and we have the capacity to monitor and adjust should a change in our distancing guidelines negatively impact our data.

We have several weeks prior to our transition to Green and will continue to communicate our plans at both the district and building levels between now and then. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at ben.proctor@usd460.org or call our district office at 620-327-4931.

Respectfully,

Ben Proctor, Superintendent