November 12, 2020
I continue to have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the support this community provides for our schools in good times as well as challenging times. Without question, these are challenging times. Every person in this community should (and I believe they do) have an infinite amount of respect for those in the trenches doing the work of education. Our leadership team has logged 70+ hour work weeks virtually every week since March 14 and we are eternally in debt to their professional dedication. We could do a nation-wide search and not find seven more committed volunteers to serve in our best interest on our school board. Our teachers continue to be pushed to the brink and respond day after day for students. Our support staff of maintenance/custodians, food service, clerical, para-professionals, IT, substitute teachers and transportation show up all day every day to make it all happen. Finally, our nursing staff has been meticulous and frankly, done yeoman’s work in following a mountain of requirements to keep our students and staff safe. I implore you to go out of your way to thank these people in this ever-changing environment.
As COVID-19 numbers continue to spike in virtually every zip code in the nation, we know full well that 67025 is no exception. Certainly, the implications for USD268 are not immune to the current situation.
We are incredibly grateful to be completing our 13th week of on-site instruction. All of you received a power announcement on September 18 indicating the categories USD 268 uses as our gating criteria regarding whether or not we are on-site, hybrid or remote for learning. Nothing has changed. If you follow it, you understand numbers are not constantly posted as our numbers change monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly.
The Gating Committee is comprised of ten members of educators, board members, community members and, most importantly, three medical professionals. Their task is to evaluate the information available regarding active USD268 student and staff cases, USD268 absenteeism rate, 67025 cases, active trend cases, SGCO rates and hospital availability rates. In turn, all that information must be used to make decisions regarding our learning mode.
We know our students social-emotional health and academic success is best served in our buildings. Nothing can replace the teacher in the room and we have great ones. Behind that philosophy as our foundation, OUR NUMBER 1 CONSIDERATION is active cases of students and staff on our campus. On any given day we have 802 students and 150 adults.
After 13 weeks we have had a cumulative total of 25 active cases (25/952=2.6%)
Our current active cases are 8 which is a high for us in a one-week period (8/952=.08%)
It is clear the school cannot mitigate the spread on our own. We continue to do our part and if the doors are to remain open and keep the economy open, it is incumbent upon all of us to do our part. Thanksgiving and Christmas will most likely be the determining factor for our success until a vaccine arrives. In fact, the greatest threat going forward is our ability to keep our teachers healthy.
It is also crystal clear our students want to be in school and our parents want their child to be in school. For the last decade, our average attendance rate is 94%. After 13 weeks, our average attendance is 97% (this includes students in and out of quarantine situations learning remotely). Excluding any learner in remote, our average daily attendance is 94%. Parents are also reminded they may pull their child from school at any time if they feel it is not safe and we will educate them.
We will never take for granted the responsibility and trust you place in our care with the students of this district. I could not be more proud to walk in lockstep with the staff and Board of Education in this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.
We have met for countless hours, and continue to meet, with the CDC, KDHE, KSDE, epidemiologists, pediatricians and SGCO Health for guidance. Finally, I implore you to treat each difficult decision these people must make with grace and compassion as Theodore Roosevelt would say, “They are the ones in the arena”.
To better education,
Superintendent of Schools
USD 268 Cheney
**To our USD 268 school family and community:
THE PERSON IN THE ARENA
IT IS NOT THE CRITIC WHO COUNTS; NOT THE PERSON WHO POINTS
OUT HOW THE STRONG PERSON STUMBLES, OR WHEN THE DOER OF
DEEDS COULD HAVE DONE THEM BETTER. THE CREDIT BELONGS TO
THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA, WHOSE FACE IS
MARRED BY DUST AND SWEAT AND BLOOD; WHO STRIVES
VALIANTLY; WHO ERRS, WHO COMES SHORT AGAIN AND AGAIN,
BECAUSE THERE IS NO EFFORT WITHOUT ERROR AND SHORTCOMING;
BUT WHO DOES ACTUALLY STRIVE TO DO THE DEEDS; WHO KNOWS
GREAT ENTHUSIASMS, THE GREAT DEVOTIONS; WHO SPENDS THEMSELF
IN A WORTHY CAUSE; WHO AT THE BEST KNOWS IN THE END THE
TRIUMPH OF HIGH ACHIEVEMENT, AND WHO AT THE WORST, IF THEY
FAIL, AT LEAST FAILS WHILE DARING GREATLY, SO THAT THEIR PLACE
SHALL NEVER BE WITH THOSE COLD AND TIMID SOULS WHO
NEITHER KNOW VICTORY NOR DEFEAT.
WEAR A MASK
WASH YOUR HANDS