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COVID Update - July 24, 2020

24 July 2020


Greenback Family,


I want to update you on some important developments for our schools.  I know there is healthy debate about the right way forward in this pandemic but the debate reassures me that we, as a community, value the importance of education and our youth.  Our goal is to put our students in the best position to be growing and staying healthy. 


KSDE did kick the decision on a school delay back to local control, and our Board voted to move our start of school for students to August 26th.  We will update our online calendar to reflect the new dates.  The end of school is scheduled for May 26th and we shortened the Thanksgiving Break to three days.  We moved our Professional Learning Days (all but one) to before the start of school for students in order to give more time for preparation.  This will be the hardest year in a teacher’s career…other than his/her rookie year…because we are planning for multiple learning options to deliver simultaneously to our students.  The kind and supportive words I hear for our teachers are very much appreciated.


Before making the calendar change, I did have concerns that we would not be able to acquire all of the necessary supplies—the demand for mitigation items is very high and suppliers are struggling to meet these orders.  I believe the two-week delay (we had a very early start) puts us in a much better position to have all mitigation supplies and strategies in place.  Our total number of student days and total teacher contract days remains the same—just a shift on the calendar dates.


Next, I know there is controversy surrounding Governor Kelly’s Executive Order 20-59, which mandates masks unless six-foot social distancing is achieved along with temperature checks before entering the building.  At this time, this applies to PreK-12th grade students.  We will meet with our Pratt County Health Department, which coordinates with our local doctors, to make sure we do what is best for kids and follow the law.  At this time, it is a bit up in the air as to whether counties can vote to adjust EO 20-59.  Here’s what we know: we will be committed to having our students in school, we will use common sense to help our students navigate a challenging time (and we will give them credit that they are tough and resilient), and we will continue communicating with the Pratt County Health Department and make sure our protocols have their support.  We will communicate the most impactful procedures (masks, temp checks, etc) and protocols to our parents as we get further guidance.


This probably gives us some insight into the sacrifices that the “Greatest Generation” endured during World War II.  Yes, it is different.  But, citizens sacrificed comfort in order to make sure we would win in the end.  And…we won.  It’s our heritage to disagree sometimes.  It’s also our heritage to look out for each other and pull together.  Teachers are excited to get our students back in school.  I’m excited to cheer on our Greenbacks!




Tony Helfrich


Pratt Schools USD 382