Back to In-Person School for SMSD: Petition to Use KDHE Gating Criteria

Back to In-Person School for SMSD: Petition to Use KDHE Gating Criteria

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Act Now SMSD started this petition to Shawnee Mission School Board and their constituents

This petition is to have the Shawnee Mission School Board utilizing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment gating criteria, instead of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment gating criteria.

Middle and high schools of Shawnee Mission should have the option to attend school full-time. If SMSD continues to rely on the flawed gating criteria provided by JCDHE, middle and high school may never return to in-person learning.

With changes made by JCDHE at the Johnson County Commission meeting on October 1, 2020, SMSD will be able to attend a hybrid model of school with a combination of online and in-person. This is a good first step, but ultimately those who chose to have their children learning in person deserve that opportunity. Points to note:

  • Education Commissioner Randy Watson, Kansas Department of Education, in a presentation to the Kansas School Boards on Friday, October 2, said: “the best way for students to learn is to return to five-days-a-week learning  (with proper safety measures).”
  •  It is the desire of 72% of the parents who chose in-person learning for their children to return to a full-time school model.
  • Shawnee Mission is the only public school district in Johnson County currently without in-person learning opportunities for middle and high school.
  • Other school districts have opted for the Kansas State gating criteria because the Johnson County gating criteria are too strict.
  • Other districts are learning and have returned to 5-days-a-week, including private schools.
  • Our children’s mental health is just as important and many of them are feeling distraught and not learning as they should when they are in person. At best we are looking at our kids taking a few steps back in their education. At most, we are looking at true educational regression, declining mental health, degrading physical health and the increased surge of child abuse.
  • While more is learned about the disease and how to fight it, we will most likely be dealing with COVID-19 through 2021 and we need our kids in school learning.

A letter was sent to the SMSD School Board with the following information regarding the Gating Criteria:

“One of the most important metrics being utilized to inform districts of COVID-19 disease in the community is test positivity rate. This is an expression of positive tests divided by total number of tests over a 14-day period. Data for Johnson County, KS is reported by both the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). For both agencies, rates of 5, 10, and 15% are important decision points regarding recommendations for in-person, hybrid, and remote learning models.

While both methods are useful for monitoring trends, they fall short as comparative tools because they are reporting data a different way. The problem lies in the fact that KDHE and JCHDE describe the test as the same: 14-day percent positive tests. However, they are not the same. JCHDE report will always yield a significantly higher result due to methodology used. Compounding this issue is the fact that positivity rates of 5, 10, and 15% are used as gating cutoff points for both agencies, despite the difference in data presented. This is misleading, and results in a much more difficult standard to move between gating zones when JCDHE data is employed. Rigid adherence to, and excessive weighting given to JCHDE data on this metric could make it very difficult for decision makers to return our children to schools. Employing KDHE data for the purposes of the same gating cutoffs would support earlier return to in person learning.”

For these reasons and more, SMSD needs to utilize the gating criteria from KDHE. Therefore, SMSD can eventually return to full-time, in-person learning, for those that want to choose this option.

Note: We are not requesting the opening of schools without proper safety measures. It is understood the wearing of masks, social distancing, washing hands, and other protocols should be in place so we can return as safely as possible.

Further, we are not requesting all students to return to in-person learning. Those that are uncomfortable, or who are immuno-compromised, have options for on-line learning. It is suggested they continue with that choice. This is only for those who want to return to in-person school, that they have the opportunity.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!