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In a letter to district families and patrons, NKC Schools Superintendent Dan Clemens provided an update on school operation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The leader said the school district will continue in its current learning model with students in kindergarten through fifth-grade participating in face-to-face instruction five days a week. Those in middle and high school will continue to use the hybrid model.

While having face-to-face classes, elementary schools also began two-hour flexible learning time on Wednesdays. According to the district, this aids teachers who are supporting both in-person and virtual learners.

In response to teachers’ expressed need, beginning Dec. 2, NKC Schools will implement the weekly flexible learning time for all elementary students in grades kindergarten through fifth. Students will be dismissed from school two hours early each Wednesday.

Transportation will continue to be provided. For current Adventure Club families, child care will still be offered Wednesday afternoons.

In the letter to parents, which was also shared on the district website, the district will continue to monitor data and stay current regarding guidance and mandates.

“It is important to acknowledge that everything is subject to change. Should that be the case, we would provide families and staff members as much forewarning as possible,” Clemens wrote.

Several COVID-19 factors that trigger further conversation and analysis include:

• case rate over a 14-day span;

• slope of the trend line representing cases;

• school rate of positive cases versus community rate of positive cases; and

• ability to fully staff a site, to include all services available to families.

In applying this criteria, NKC Schools has had seven instances of temporary school closures with a complete shift to virtual learning to date.

“We will continue to make decisions at the site-based level moving forward. In a district as large as ours, great variance exists. Some of our schools are doing very well, while others need a brief reset via temporary 100% virtual learning days. Initial data is proving this strategy effective as case rates largely decline following these days,” Clemens shared.

Clemens said NKC Schools will support a face-to-face learning environment as long as it is safe to do so.

“According to our contact tracing protocols, more than 90% of all COVID cases within our schools have been found to originate in the community. Students and staff are safer in our schools, where the use of masks can be monitored and the environment more greatly controlled. We also know that the option of face-to-face learning has a profound effect on a child’s social-emotional health,” he wrote. “It is for all of these reasons that NKC Schools will continue to stay the course, making decisions specific to programs and sites.”