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The Emporia Gazette

USD 253 Emporia Public Schools clarified its COVID-19 at-home quarantine policy for students in an email sent out Friday afternoon.

When students are placed in at-home quarantine, parents can choose between two options as to how the student receives instruction: homework or remote access to instruction.

With the homework option, homework and assignments will be provided through Google Classroom or be made available for pickup. Students will be marked as excused absent.

If a student uses remote access to instruction, homework and assignments would also be provided through Google Classroom or be made available for pickup. However, the student will be provided with a Google Meetup link by their teacher in order to join their class remotely.

Teachers will meet with the remote students during each block for secondary students and once each morning and afternoon for elementary students. While interacting directly with the teachers, students will turn on their cameras.

By using this option, students will be marked present if they are able to interact with their teacher during the on-camera check-ins. If students have selected this option but aren’t feeling well, they will not be required to participate and instead would be marked as excused absent.

While state law limits each student to 40 hours of remote instruction during the school year, school districts are allowed to bypass that in the event of a quarantine or some other situation in which a student cannot reasonably return to school.

“The district continues to work with the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) on clarifications regarding remote access to instruction as developments with COVID and quarantines continue to evolve,” the email reads. “Again, this is due in part to the state legislature limiting school districts’ ability to offer remote learning. Our goal is for students to be able to access their instruction and continue to learn while in quarantine.

“It is important for families to know that students who will be remoting in for access to their instruction will have an experience that is vastly different from what was provided as remote learning last year. We encourage families to stay connected with their teachers and have patience through this process. If anyone has questions they should contact their student’s school to speak to their student’s teacher or principal.”

On Wednesday, the USD 253 Emporia Public Schools Board of Education approved job postings for an additional school nurse at Emporia High School and a director of health care services Wednesday evening.

The positions will be funded by a grant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in the total amount of $466,051.

Superintendent Allison Anderson-Harder said that the new positions will help the district’s current nursing staff, which she said is already feeling the burden on them a week into the school year.

“I will tell you, the nurses are really struggling right now,” she said. “It has been very, very difficult. I stopped in and visited with the middle school nurses and they just keep on a happy face. There was a student that came in that had had his finger stepped on and they’re stressed out with COVID but they’re always there and very compassionate for the student, got him what he needed and just keep on with their day, but they’re struggling.”

The funding will also be used to provide overtime pay for nurses as well as substitute nurses. Additionally, the district will use the funds to purchase an AbbottID PCR test kit for each school, personal protective equipment, information technology-related items for remote-learning needs, sanitation and disinfectant products and mileage costs for mobile testing.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Brad Kempf reported to the school board regarding COVID-19 cases in the district with numbers updated as of 11:55 a.m. Wednesday.

Since the school year started last Thursday, there have been eight staff positives, eight staff quarantines, 20 student positives, two staff in home quarantine due to school exposure, 51 students in home quarantine as a result of school exposure, 78 students in school-based modified test-to-learn quarantine and 29 vaccinated students who had close contacts at school but were able to return to school.

Kempf said that so far, the district has seen more quarantines in its secondary buildings.

(1) comment

Rationa1

What a ridiculously short-sighted law that 40 hour limit turned out to be. The Legislature should reconvene in emergency session to repeal it. Give our educators the tools they need to educate our kids.

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