By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
The Great Bend school district is working three weeks into the 2020-2021 school year that is unlike any other. With a combination of on-site and remote learning, masks, new levels of cleaning, social distancing and new protocols coming from nearly every direction, USD 428 Superintendent Khris Thexton noted at Monday’s Board of Education meeting that the district has been operating like they have done this before.
Since school started Aug. 27, there have been eight positive COVID-19 cases reported among either staff or students. USD 428 Public Information Director Andrea Bauer says they are tracking coronavirus cases on the district’s website, greatbendschools.net.
"We are including basic details," said Bauer. "We identify if it was staff or a student and what building it was in. We are protecting people's privacy but also being transparent with the information we have."
The biggest incident reported occurred on Aug. 31 at Great Bend Middle School when a student tested positive for COVID-19 and 23 quarantine orders were issued from exposure at school.
For those students choosing the GB Remote learning option this year, the biggest challenges have been having parents or adults keeping students on task and connectivity.
Thexton mentioned the 245 students that are currently enrolled in the online learning all have internet access. USD 428 purchased several internet hotspots that can be provided to students remotely learning or quarantined.
Director of Teaching and Learning Tricia Reiser adds that staff are trying to hold remote learners accountable.
"Kids on the computer can have the screen open so we can see the minutes, but they are not really doing the work because there is not an adult holding them to task," said Reiser. "That is a concern. We work the process. Teachers and principals talk to the parents. We talk about grading, progress and learning."
The Great Bend school district is offering additional pay to teachers to spend extra time after the school day to check on their remote learners.
Listen below to the entire discussion centered on restart update and remote learning from the USD 428 Board of Education meeting Sept. 14, 2020.