IC Parent Message 4-10-2020
Continuous Learning Plans
Hopefully everyone is settling into the new norm regarding school work. As previously stated, the best plans sometimes need tweaked. Should you have questions about the work your child is doing, please communicate with the teachers. They are eager to help the students and to ensure their success. We appreciate each and every one of you and for working together with us.
Paola High School Graduation
It is the goal of USD 368 to hold high school graduation at some point this summer for the Class of 2020. Unfortunately, due to the current restrictions in place, limits on public gatherings, and the unknown of how long the restrictions will be in place, a date and time for graduation is not yet known. We are hopeful that we will be able to make a decision by mid-May.
Breakfast / Lunch
We served an average of 650 students each day this week for breakfast and lunch. This is an increase of 150 students per day over last week.
Many of the food requests we have made to our vendors have been on back order. As a result, our food service department has had to make adjustments to the meals being served. We are able to get plenty of food to support the program and nutritional needs, but menu changes are having to be made. Thanks for the understanding and support.
Reminder that in front of the USD 368 Central Services Building (district office) we have installed a mailbox that is labeled “USD 368 Student Drop Box”. This box is for students/patrons that need to return something to the school or district since buildings are currently closed. If you drop something in the box, we ask that you put a note with it stating what school and to whom the information/material should go to.
This is a friendly reminder to fill out the Census 2020 if you have not already done so. Information gathered from the Census determines federal aid received by local governments and school districts.
Community and Student Information
The Paola Community Garden, located on Industrial Drive, has free seeds in the wooden kiosk for anyone wanting to plant a garden.
All the Best,
W. Matthew Meek
IC Parent Message 4-3-2020
Thank you to all the parents, students, and community members who have worked so hard to make the best out of an unfortunate situation. We understand how difficult it is to juggle all the responsibilities we currently face. As educators, we get it. We are there with you with some of the same struggles. During times like this communication is essential. As an organization we believe the Continuous Learning Plan has had a successful start. However, we also understand that some challenges have come up and we need to make adjustments. It is important to communicate with your child’s teachers should a challenge come up that we need to work through. Together we will persevere.
Breakfast / Lunch
We served an average of 500 students each day this week for breakfast and lunch. A couple questions have come up regarding the program. Questions and answers are as follows:
Q: Can anyone age 1-18 get a lunch?
A: Yes. This is for anyone age 1-18 and is NOT based on need.
Q: Can we substitute something else for milk?
A: No. According to the USDA food nutrition guidelines, each meal has to be served with milk. During the school year we were able to provide students a choice between chocolate or white milk. Unfortunately, we currently cannot get chocolate milk from our vendor so we must include white milk instead. Even if your child does not like white milk, we must give it as part of the meal for reimbursement from the USDA. The milk can be used for cooking at home by the family if the student chooses not to drink it.
Q: The survey asked about picking up multiple meals a day, how come that isn’t happening?
A: This was our goal to give this as an option, but due to food delivery schedules from our multiple vendors, lack of refrigerator space, and logistics of preparing so many meals at once we are currently not able to accommodate as we had hoped.
In front of the USD 368 Central Services Building (district office) we have installed a mailbox that is labeled “USD 368 Student Drop Box”. This box is for students/patrons that need to return something to the school or district since buildings are currently closed. If you drop something in the box, we ask that you put a note with it stating what school and to whom the information/material should go to.
Although today reminds us more of winter than spring, please enjoy the spring weather that will be returning to us soon.
All the Best,
W. Matthew Meek
FOOD SERVICE UPDATE 3-27-2020
To the parents of USD368 students,
As you are aware by now, these are unprecedented times that we are living in. The COVID-19 virus has affected each and every one of us in different ways. While Governor Kelly and local government have declared a state of emergency, requested people practice social distancing and suspended many services and facilities, the USD368 food service staff is committed to working through this pandemic and feeding the children of our community.
But we are still bound by regulations mandated by the United States Department of Agriculture as well as the Kansas Department of Education that limit some of the services that we can provide. The services that each school district is allowed to provide is very much determined by the percentage of students in the community which qualify for free and reduced meals. Paola has a low percentage (about 30%) of students who qualify for free and reduced meals relative to nearby communities such as Osawatomie and Ottawa. Therefore, services in each of those areas will vary greatly. And the regulations seem to change by the day.
Here is what we are currently allowed to do:
1) Curbside pickup in the Paola High School faculty parking lot.
2) One-time window for pick-up. A parental survey indicated that 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. was the most convenient time frame for the majority of respondents.
3) We hope to be able to provide multiple days' meals soon. But to start we will only be able to offer daily pick-ups. This has to do more with our ability to order food from our wholesalers than any USDA or KSDE regulations.
4) Serve anyone under the age of 18. A child does not need to be registered at a USD368 school in order to receive a meal. Anyone under the age of 18 is allowed to participate in this program.
5) Children do NOT need to be present in the vehicle in order to receive meals. A parent or guardian may drive up, request the appropriate number of meals and take them home to be consumed. (This is a change from previous correspondence and the result of USDA giving Kansas a waiver in this area.)
Here are some things we are prohibited from doing:
1) Delivery to individual homes using bus routes.
2) Establishing multiple pick-up points within the city. Census data delineates the geographical area from which we are allowed to run the operation.
3) Make deliveries to daycare facilities or other sites.
4) One time for morning pick-up and another time for afternoon pick-up.
5) Distributing meals to family friends, relatives or anyone who is not a parent or legal guardian of the child. At this time, we are prohibited from handing out meals to a neighbor, grandparent, aunt/uncle or anyone other than the parent or legal guardian. If anyone other than the parent or legal guardian wishes to pick up a meal, the children must be in the vehicle and only as many meals will be distributed as there are children in that vehicle. Of course, children can pick up meals for themselves if they wish to walk over, ride a bicycle or are of legal driving age.
Even though it may seem as if we are not offering as many options as some of the surrounding communities, my wish is for everyone to understand that we are doing everything we are currently allowed to within USDA and KSDE guidelines for a community with our percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced meals. If the USDA and KSDE offer more flexibility in the coming days and weeks, we will do everything we can to expand our methods of distribution.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at email@example.com
Director of Food Service, USD368
COVID-19 Update (3-25-20)
Continuous learning plans and remote learning details are being finalized. Cottonwood elementary students should receive learning packets in the mail by the end of the week with instructions. Students in grades 3-12 will receive information from their respective schools/teachers as to the expectations and how school will be conducted. We are currently working on plans for students who need essential items picked up at school. The respective building administrators and office personnel are working on contacting students/families. We understand that this may not be a perfect process and kinks may need to be worked out, but I can assure you together we will get through this. I appreciate the cooperation and teamwork from everyone.
All of our school buildings have wireless internet access that can be accessed from inside a car in school parking lots. If your child has a school issued Chromebook, it should automatically connect to the appropriate wireless internet. Other devices can use the “guest” wireless. It is password protected, but for the next 60 days the password is “panthers”. It is not a requirement for students to use, but is being offered as a resource to students and families.
USD 368 Special Board of Education Meeting
On March 26 at 6:00pm the Board of Education will hold a special meeting to approve the application waiver that must be submitted to the Kansas State Department of Education. This meeting will be virtual. Access to board meeting agendas and virtual log-in information can be found at: http://www.usd368.org/vnews/display.v/SEC/District%7CBoard%20of%20Education%3E%3EBoard%20Docs. Click on the Board Docs link for all school board meeting agendas and information.
Breakfast / Lunch for students during COVID-19 School Closure
Starting Monday, March 30, the USD 368 food service department will provide free breakfast and lunch for all students ages 1-18 to be picked up at the Paola High School faculty parking lot (south lot) between 11a -1p. Once the program is in place, there may be the opportunity to pick up multiple days at once, but to start, meals will be available on a daily basis. Each day the student will receive lunch and breakfast for the following day. Due to USDA guidelines, the students must be present when picking up the meals. Questions regarding food pick-up can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
School / COVID-19 Update (3-19-2020)
USD 368 Parents and Students,
Each day the COVID-19 pandemic brings new challenges and information that we need to be aware of. The email sent previously talked about Governor Kelly’s closing of schools. This closing is for school facilities not closing the education for the students. Next week, teachers and staff will be working on remote learning opportunities for all our students. These opportunities could be a combination of virtual and paper/pencil activities, but could include other options. The goal of the district is to help during these unprecedented times. More information will be sent out next week on what the continuous learning plan will look like for our students. Early next week you should receive a phone call from the district asking some pertinent questions regarding internet access, participating in the food service program for your children, etc. Once this information is received, we hope to have specific information and details regarding our food service department providing breakfast and lunch opportunities for children and young adults ages 1-18.
With the closing of school facilities, we have locked access to our athletic fields. This is to discourage students from congregating as the most recent recommendation is that groups be limited to 10 or less and that social distancing of six feet between people be maintained.
There are many questions and concerns about this closure. The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) has officially cancelled all spring activities. For those high school students, especially our Seniors, who will miss out on the opportunity to compete for a state medal this is especially heartbreaking. The official announcement can be viewed on the KSHSAA website. Other activities such as orientation nights, music programs, Prom, Graduation are also cancelled at this time. Should some of the requirements be lifted postponing graduation until summer may be an option, but this is too early to determine.
Lastly, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued new quarantine regulations. The new regulations now MANDATES quarantines for travelers and has added Florida to the list of states. The full guidelines can be found at https://khap2.kdhe.state.ks.us/NewsRelease/PDFs/3-18-20%20Quarantine%20mandate%20FINAL.pdf.
Please stay safe, practice hand washing and maintain social distancing. Together our community will get through this unfortunate and unprecedented situation.
More information will be shared as it becomes available.
USD 368 Superintendent
Mandate School Closing Infomation (3-17-2020)
This afternoon, Governor Laura Kelly, ordered all schools closed for the remainder of the school year. This announcement does not alleviate our responsibility as a school district to provide educational opportunities for our students and does not mean summer break begins. In essence this declaration means school will look different for the remainder of the school year. All activities are currently cancelled until further notice.
Next week, March 23-27 will be an extended spring break for students. The staff will use next week to outline and prepare lesson plans utilizing a remote learning format. More information will be sent out next week with details. The district will also be working on details on how to provide breakfast and lunch to students during the school shut down. Once details are finalized, this information will be shared.
Please understand that this is a stressful situation for all of us. We will work together to make the most of the situation and provide for the students.
W. Matthew Meek
KDHE Quarantine Recommendations (3-15-2020)
COVID-19 Update 3-15-2020
Governor Kelly, the Kansas State Department of Education, Kansas Department of Health and Environment are recommending that all schools in Kansas close the week of March 16-20. For Paola we are fortunate that this is our spring break. During this time, any school activities that were scheduled are cancelled. As a school district we are planning on being in school March 23 as scheduled, but at this time it is not known if this recommended closure will be extended beyond March 16-20.
More information will be sent out as it is received, but at this time I would recommend that parents have back-up plans for needed childcare should school be shut down beyond next week.
Please take the necessary precautions regarding COVID-19 as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
W. Matthew Meek
USD #368 COVID-19 Information--Mar 13, 2020
New information was received late yesterday
With spring break occurring next week, many families may have trips scheduled. The most recent information received from the Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is asking any students or staff members who have traveled outside of the United States as of Feb. 25, 2020 and until all travel bands 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. This same protocol is also being recommended for anyone returning from travel to known “hot spots” for the virus and who have had no known direct exposure with the virus.
We are asking that anyone who has traveled or will be traveling that meet the criteria above to help keep our community safe by following the recommendations above. As a school district we do not have the authority to quarantine anyone who isn’t exhibiting any signs of illness and are relying on families to voluntarily follow the recommendations.
Please understand that information and recommendations received about COVID-19 changes daily and sometimes multiple times a day. This is the most recent information we have received.
USD #368 COVID-19 Information--Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 2:12 PM
While the risk of COVID-19 to area residents remains low at this time, USD #368 is taking direction from the Miami County Health Department and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to monitor and address the virus as the need arises. We have an existing plan that address infectious diseases and will continue to promote infection control practices to minimize risk for students and staff in the district.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 requires the same precautions as with Influenza (flu). Good hygiene is the best defense for controlling the spread of any illness. Important practices include:
·Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
·Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
·Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then immediately throw away in a trash can
·Stay home if you are sick
·Avoid close contact with people who are sick
For the most accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19 please visit www.cdc.gov or www.kdhe.ks.gov
USD #368 takes the safety and well-being of our staff and students seriously. The district will have ongoing communication with Miami County Health Department and be prepared to add additional safety measures as directed.