Breaking News

Monday, November 16, 2020
Message from Dr. Mike Fulton

As you know, the number of COVID-19 infections in Johnson County has been rising dramatically over the last several weeks. One of the impacts of this rise on the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) is that we are finding it more difficult to staff our buildings for in-person learning, given the number of staff currently in quarantine or isolation. We have reached the point where we are unable to fully staff all of our buildings, and need to make a change.

Beginning November 30, 2020, all secondary students (middle and high school) will return to remote learning, and will continue in remote learning through the end of the first semester (January 22, 2021). 

It is important to emphasize that this decision is not being made because of COVID-19 transmission within our schools. (You can see the SMSD dashboard here.) We continue to see schools doing an excellent job of implementing mitigating factors such as social distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing, and completing daily COVID-19 assessments. Those actions seem to be working to keep transmission low within schools. Still, we have a rising number of employees who are in quarantine or isolation, which is impacting our ability to staff buildings at all levels. Implementing remote learning for our secondary students will allow us to shift critical resources such as substitutes to the elementary level, giving us the best opportunity to keep elementary students in-person.

It will be critically important that families continue with the mitigation efforts mentioned above, as we approach this Thanksgiving holiday break. Otherwise, community transmission levels could impact our ability to staff elementary schools, and to perform necessary contact tracing to identify potential spread within our buildings. Again, students and staff have been doing an excellent job of keeping schools safe to remain open, but they can’t do that by themselves. Staffing is a critical issue, and we need the entire community’s help in keeping schools open.

For elementary parents, it is very important that you take the above into consideration as you plan in the weeks ahead. We are working closely with the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment to monitor conditions in our buildings and the district. In the interest of student and staff safety, we will not hesitate to move from in-person to remote learning if health conditions and/or staffing limitations require us to do so. To the greatest extent possible, the district will provide a minimum 14-day notice when moving from one mode of instruction to another, except in situations requiring immediate action.

These are challenging times, and certainly not what any of us would have hoped for over the holiday season. Together, we can do what is necessary to decrease the spread of COVID-19 in our community and in our schools. Thank you for supporting the health of our SMSD community during these difficult times.


Friday, November 13, 2020
In this Update:

  • Gating Criteria Update
  • Staffing
  • Help Stop COVID-19
  • Resources

This week, the Board of Education held a special meeting, which included a discussion on gating criteria related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This update includes information about that discussion, and how it might impact you and your family over the next few weeks.

At the center of the discussion on Nov. 10, was the reality of the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in Johnson County.

Gating Criteria Update
Elizabeth Holzschuh, director of epidemiology for Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE), provided an update from JCDHE about COVID-19 in Johnson County. She stated during the meeting that JCDHE is not recommending that schools go remote at all school levels. That stance is based in part on very low transmission rates inside schools in Johnson County, including the Shawnee Mission School District. Many staff members have worked untold hours to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while keeping schools open. This has been an incredible feat and is a reason to continue the mitigation strategies in place in school buildings.

On Nov. 10, the Board of Education approved two following authorizations:

  1. SMSD, under the authority of the Superintendent, will follow JCDHE recommendations regarding academics, including in-person instruction, except where deemed necessary to be more restrictive, such as limited staffing.
  2. The Board also authorized the superintendent to have latitude regarding athletics and activities to be more or less restrictive than JCDHE criteria, depending on the superintendent’s determination. As shared on October 30, the decision was made to move forward with high school winter activities and athletics with mitigations and safety protocols in place.

Staffing
The community at large is seeing significant spikes in positive cases of COVID-19. This has a real and direct impact on staffing schools. If positive cases continue to increase in our community, schools will not be able to be safely and appropriately staffed. As a reminder, the district will provide a minimum 14-day notice when moving from one mode of instruction to another, except in situations requiring immediate action.

It is important for our community to be prepared: If we are not able to staff our schools due to illness, this could result in a situation where we have to move some or all of our schools to remote learning.

Stop the Spread of COVID-19
To keep students in school, the spread of COVID-19 must be stopped, not only in district buildings, but in our community. Please follow these steps to prevent the virus from spreading:

  • Wearing masks
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Washing hands
  • Staying home if sick 

It’s important families continue to monitor students for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Please review the Daily COVID-19 assessment here

We are asking all SMSD families to cooperate with contact tracing by the district and the JCDHE. This tracing is essential in efforts to keep schools open.  

Support
Thank you to every SMSD educator; they are exerting tremendous effort in support of our mission to serve students, despite the challenges this year has brought.

We must provide one another support as the global pandemic carries on. Knowing mental health is a primary concern in our community, we want to be sure that family members are aware of resources and ways to find help:

  • Individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or those supporting someone in crisis are encouraged to call the Johnson County Mental Health 24/7 crisis line at 913-268-0156.
  • Families who need support are encouraged to reach out to their school social worker, who can connect them with additional resources.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership in support of our students. 


Tuesday, October 27, 2020
COVID-19 Reporting Update

The Shawnee Mission School District continues to monitor new cases of COVID-19 in our schools. We work closely with the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) to monitor the spread of the virus and follow the recommendations of our public health department with respect to addressing positive cases, presumed positive cases, and exposures. The information provided on the reporting page is updated on Monday of each week based on the information available to the district through individual reporting and contact tracing. Click here to view the COVID-19 Reporting page. 


Tuesday, October 20, 2020
New Pick up Time for Meals

Remote meal pick up on Fridays from 6:30-7:45 a.m. New pick up times are effective on Friday, October 23, 2020. This time change is necessary in order to keep the students safe as we transition to in-person students on Fridays. We apologize if this is inconvenient and realize this isn’t ideal for some families. We remain committed to serving all students.

FREE meals are offered to all SMSD students regardless if they are learning remote, hybrid or in person. This includes breakfast and lunch meals. Meals are funded entirely by USDA as part of their Summer Meals Program extension. These free meals will continue through the end of the 2020-21 school year. We encourage families to continue to apply for free and reduced meals. Qualifying may allow for other support through the district.

Students will receive their in-person meals at no cost during the days they are in school. Any extra ala carte purchases the students make will require money to be on their food service account.


Monday, October, 19, 2020
Hybrid and In-person Schedules

The following is the schedule for students Shawnee Mission who selected in-person learning to move from remote learning to the hybrid learning model and finally to in-person learning.
Elementary Hybrid/Transition Schedule:
Oct. 19-23    Grades Pre-K-2 On-Site Daily, Grades 3-6 Hybrid Model
Oct. 26-30      All students grades Pre-K-6 on-site daily

During the hybrid schedule parents can plan for the days their student would be in session on-site or learning remotely:

  • A-LamB schedule for on-site M-T and remote learning W-Th-F 
  • LamC-Z for on-site W-Th and remote learning M-T-F

During hybrid, all students learn remotely on Fridays.

Middle and High Hybrid Schedule
Oct. 23, 2020      A remote learning day for all middle and high school (secondary) students enrolled in In-Person Learning in the Shawnee Mission School District.
Oct. 26, 2020      All students grades 7-12 begin Hybrid, so long as we are in the orange or yellow criteria, with modifying variables in place for in-class instruction

  • Students will be divided into two cohorts by last name
  • Monday and Tuesday

        ○ Last names starting A - Lamb attend in person

        ○ Last names starting Lamc - Z work remotely via Canvas/Webex

Teachers are strongly encouraged to offer an opportunity for remote students to view classroom instruction remotely via Webex

  • Wednesday and Thursday

        ○ Last names starting Lamc - Z attend in person

        ○ Last names starting A - Lamb work remotely via Canvas/Webex

Teachers are strongly encouraged to offer an opportunity for remote students to view classroom instruction remotely via Webex

All students attend all classes remotely via Webex for live instruction on Friday.


Friday, October 2, 2020
Updated School Gating Criteria

Staff and families received information on the updated gating criteria regarding COVID-19 from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE). You may see the gating criteria here.

For elementary students, there will be no change to their learning model as a result of this update. For secondary (middle and high school)  students who selected in-person learning, we will provide a hybrid model of instruction when in the yellow or orange categories. Secondary students who selected a remote learning model will remain remote. When we are in the red category all students will be remote.

Assuming the county remains in the orange or yellow gating criteria, and with mitigating adjustments in place, secondary students would transition to hybrid learning on Monday, October 26, 2020. As a reminder, we will provide a minimum 14-day notice when moving from one mode of instruction to another, except in situations requiring immediate action.


Friday, September 11, 2020
Elementary Reopening Update

On Wednesday, September 9, 2020, families received correspondence about changes in the elementary schedule for the 2020-2021 school year. Here is some additional information to help explain why this decision was made and address concerns. 

Please view the following links: 
A short video with additional information
Frequently Asked Questions

The deadline for the learning model selection is 4 p.m. on Monday, September 14. for certainty of classroom placement for the entire year, please make your selection now

For more details on the semester selection, please review the video and the frequently asked questions page. 

If you have already completed the form and this information in any way changes your selection, simply resubmit your selection.


Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Special Board Meeting Recap

Athletic and Activities Update: Richard Kramer, director of athletics and activities, shared guidance and protocols for the Shawnee Mission School District that outline precautions to minimize risk. He noted to the Board that students and coaches practiced and followed these protocols in the summer, during the time Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) guidelines allowed for participation. The time to practice and implement COVID-19 mitigating measures earlier this year, he said, will allow participants to resume participation and effectively implement mitigation measures. 

Dr. Areola, JCDHE director, also stated that JCDHE would be updating gating criteria soon. In light of this guidance, Board of Education members authorized Dr. Fulton to immediately resume extracurricular activities and athletics in a manner consistent with guidelines issued by JCDHE, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas State High School Activities Association, the Sunflower League, and school administration designated to address COVID-19. The Board of Education approved the authorization, following a 5-2 vote. 


Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Elementary Reopening Update

The first step in moving from remote to in-person learning (for families who have selected the in-person model) is to implement the hybrid model (two days in-person and three days remote). Starting in-person instruction using the hybrid learning model allows students and staff the opportunity to develop the habits necessary for eventually having all students in class. Taking a deliberate approach towards moving from remote to the hybrid model will promote the health and well-being of students, staff, and the community, while at the same time providing families with a more predictable schedule. 

Once we transition to hybrid, we will remain in hybrid or in-person for the remainder of the school year unless otherwise directed by the JCHDE. Our goal is to have those students who chose in-person learning in school full-time as soon as possible. When we begin the transition to all in-person, we will start with our youngest learners and move up in grade levels. This timeline is contingent on meeting JCDHE guidelines for classroom instruction, including use of masks and meeting minimum distancing requirements.

Sept 14-18:                    Remote all students Pre-K-6
Sept 21-25                     Remote all students Pre-K-6
Sept 28-Oct 2               Remote all students Pre-K-6
(New Schedules begin)
Oct. 5-9                         Hybrid for in-person students Pre-K-2
Oct. 12-16                      Hybrid for in-person students Pre-K-6
Oct 19-23                      Transition to all in-person begins 

The hybrid schedule will be utilized when necessary and parents can plan for the days their student would be in session on-site and remotely.

  • A-LamB schedule for on-site M-T and remote learning W-Th-F 
  • LamC-Z for on-site W-Th and remote learning M-T-F

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Update from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE)
Dr. Samni Areola, JCDHE health director, provided an update of his meeting with school superintendents earlier today. You may read the update here.