Kansas Department of Education
ks task force report

With schools shuttered, Kansas announces guidance for remote instruction

March 20, 2020
Districts are to come up with plans to provide remote learning and account for students who don't have online access.

Although regular classes  in Kansas have been canceled through the end of the 2019-20 school year, students in the state will still keep doing academic work — perhaps up to three hours of remote learning per day for older students — under guidelines issued as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 virus.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson outlined Kansas State Department of Education guidelines for school districts to use when creating a continuous learning program. The guidelines were created by a task force of educators across the state.

The guidelines include allowing small groups of students to meet in person for lessons that are not easily conducted through virtual education avenues, Watson says. They allow schools to host in-person activities that include less than 10 people who are separated by at least six feet. Those rules are in line with recommendations from health officials to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I want to be crystal clear: We did not shut schools down in Kansas,” Watson says. “We are limiting activity in schools in Kansas.”

The guidelines suggest most students should have a limited amount of at-home learning time. They show the maximum student commitment to learning each day should be 30 minutes for pre-kindergarten, 45 minutes for students in kindergarten and first grade, 60 minutes for students in second and third grades, and 90 minutes for students in fourth and fifth grades.

For students in sixth grade and up, students should have 30 minutes per teacher with a maximum of three hours total. The guidelines suggest that teachers have weekly assignments, projects, and video check-ins to assess their students’ learning. 

[ RELATED: Read the entire Continuous Learning Task Force Guidance ]

The task force report comes two days after Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly ordered all school buildings closed for the rest of the academic year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The order came after the state’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases doubled in two days. As of Thursday afternoon, Kansas had reported at least 34 confirmed cases of the virus, although officials had started to limit testing in parts of the state because of the widespread nature of the virus and a lack of tests

In light of the governor’s order, each school district will need to create a continuous learning plan that suits its student population needs, says Cindy Couchman, assistant superintendent of the Buhler school district and member of the task force.

Although many schools may use online learning in their plans, many families may not have reliable access to the internet. For those students, schools may need to provide education packets that can be completed at home.

Watson says each school district must have a state-approved plan in place by April 15.

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