Working from the Kansas State Department of Education’s “Navigating Change” document, Governor Laura Kelly has issued guidance for school districts with an emphasis on opening safely for the 2021-22 school year – and staying open.
The new guidance emphasizes vaccination and mitigation strategies to keep schools open and students and staff protected even as the Delta variant spreads. Kansas, with its low vaccination rate, is currently seeing an uptick in infections and hospitalizations.
There are four overarching strategies for opening schools and keeping them open:
- Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic;
- A robust COVID-19 testing strategy will help ensure students, staff and teachers can continue in-person during the 2021-2022 school year;
- CDC and KDHE recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors (age 2 and older) to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status; and
- Schools should strive to maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms and other closed settings.
In addition to the guidance, Governor Kelly and KSDE are encouraging school districts to submit requests for ELC Grant Funds. The state of Kansas received $87 million to fund equipment, testing, and medical staff to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Use of these grants can support school and district efforts to make safe learning environments for all students and staff.