All of the schools districts in Marion County are making changes due to the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic. The Free Press updated readers on Goessel and Hillsboro last week (although Hillsboro has a meeting set for Tuesday, Nov. 24, which will be after press deadline), and now here are the other schools.
Marion-Florence USD 408
The Free Press was unable to reach Superintendent Aaron Homburg in spite of numerous attempts. However, the district posted the following statement:
“Due to the current COVID-19 numbers in our county, Thanksgiving Break has been extended for all students PK-12. School will not be in session on the following dates: Nov. 23, 24 and 30 as well as Dec. 1 and 2. Classes will resume on Dec. 3 at the normal time.
“Activities will not have practice until Nov. 30.
“We appreciate community help and support during this pandemic. Please continue to wear face coverings when a social distance cannot be attained and practice good hand washing techniques.
“We appreciate all you do, and if you have any questions, please contact us.
“We want to wish you and your family a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.”
Centre USD 397
Centre was one of the first schools in the county to make a drastic change. Their statement regarding their students in grades 6-12, posted on Nov. 12, read:
“A special Centre board meeting was held this evening concerning the increase in COVID-19 symptoms experienced among our students. In our effort to provide safety to all and gain time to mitigate the spread of virus, the Centre Board of Education voted to move JH/HS classes to a remote learning delivery model, beginning on Monday, Nov 16, through Nov 30, 2020. Tomorrow, Friday, Nov 13, will be a non-school day for 6th-12th grade.
“The board will reconvene on Monday, Nov. 30, to re-assess the level of risk for students.
“Elementary classes, grades PreK-5, will continue face-to-face instruction at Centre School.
“We appreciate your cooperation in this matter and wish you good health.”
Peabody-Burns USD 398
Shortly after Centre moved to remote learning, Peabody-Burns also moved their high school to remote learning due to a positive case in the high school.
“When we identified everybody, that was about 14 kids. It seemed like that would be a good time to change. That stopped any extracurricular activities as well. We are gonna use the Thanksgiving break to wrap everything up. I’m just hoping we don’t have any new cases. Our whole thought was to be proactive and remote one of our most active groups,” Superintendent Ron Traxson said.
Traxson explained that they have not had a high number of positives and quarantines like other districts, but they are still having them because of students’ exposures at home and in the community.
“We have about 15 kids that are quarantined, but none of them were at school. A lot of these are family connected. We have established that when you are wearing masks, like at school, the transmission is little to none,” Traxson said.
He does worry about the holidays.
“It’s scary coming off of Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. When you feel comfortable with relatives, you aren’t going to be careful and wear masks. But, as one of our commissioners stated, ‘It’s the United States of America and we have our own rules and follow our own guide.’ I guess so all of our rules and laws for public safety go out the window,” Traxson said.
While students are remote now, that is hopefully not the long-term plan.
“Everyone comes back off of remote on the 30th and practices resume. Although everything hinges on what KSHSAA decided on Tuesday as far as basketball,” Traxson said. “But either way, we will come off remote and practice safely.”
The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) is meeting on Nov. 24 to decide what will happen with winter sports. They may move them to 2021.
“If we do have to push everything back, we will be fine. We can practice in our bubbles and be safe,” Traxson said.
Traxson is optimistic but cautious.
“Parents have been great. There are kids and people we have to talk to and remind them to keep their masks up. And sometimes the information just confuses everyone, so I find it’s good to get as much information and then communicate it clearly,” Traxson said. “I feel very good about kids in school and what we are doing. It’s outside of school that concerns me.”