he Platte County R-3 School District pushed back its fall start date to Tuesday, Sept. 8.
The R-3 announcement was made Monday. Most other area school districts, including Park Hill and North Platte, had made public their intentions to delay the start of fall classes until Sept. 8.
“This change comes in response to recommendations from our local health authorities (Platte County Health Department, Clay County Health Department, and Kansas City Health Department), based on recent increases in COVID-19 in our area. This change also allows our staff to better prepare for the change in school environment (both for in-person learning and remote learning), by participating in training and professional development for two full weeks before the start of school,” say district officials.
“There have been 67 positive cases of COVID-19 in the 64079 zip code, where six of the district’s eight buildings are located.
“Let’s assume, for a moment, the situation stays about the same. In-person students will start the year in a blended mode, with PreK through 5th grade and Northland Career Center students attending in-person Monday through Friday, and 6th through 12 grades on an alternation (hybrid schedule).
“This change does not affect those students who have opted for a full remote learning scenario,” say R-3 officials.
Due to the delay in the district’s start date, the district has extended the deadline for parents to decide between in-person or remote learning. Parents can either submit the information on the e-Form on the Parent Portal or contact the child’s school if they have already submitted their e-Form.
So far, the district has “heard from 74% of our student population, with about 17% of PreK-12 grade students opting for remote learning,” say district officials.
Only two options are on the table this year.
“The alternating schedule is considered an in-person learning scenario and is not a student choice. This scenario is initiated based on guidance from local health authorities and other factors. Students will rotate attendance so that approximately half of our in-person learners will attend in-person and half of our in-person learners will attend remotely on any given day,” say district officials.
For better or worse, PreK through 5th grade students attending the in-person mode will not shift to an alternating scenario, like middle and high students.
“An alternating schedule at the secondary level (decreasing the building occupancy by about 50%), allows for increased ability for physical distancing during transitions and reduces student capacity in our largest schools,” say school officials. “According to local health authorities, although we are seeing a substantial increase in cases of COVID-19 in under 10 and 10-19 age groups, it appears that this is primarily stemming from adults transmitting this disease to children.
“To date, for children under 10, we have little evidence of significant levels of child-to-child transmission. We also have little evidence of significant child-to-adult transmission. Therefore, based on this evidence, and the challenges of virtual learning in the younger ages, area health officials are highly encouraging in-person education for all PreK through grade school students,” state school officials.
“A regional, collaborative effort among health authorities and school leaders has begun to provide metropolitan school districts with guidance regarding community transmission rates and the impact on our learning scenarios,” say district officials.
When levels of COVID-19 decrease, the district plans to return to a full in-person learning mode.
“Again, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we embark on a school year like no other. We look forward to partnering with families to prepare ALL learners for success,” said district officials in a message to parents and patrons.