School Board approves back to school plan

Jordan Meier

PITTSBURG, Kan. — As students enjoy a summer with fewer “restrictions” and COVID-19 mitigation requirements, USD 250’s Board of Education approved the district’s back-to-school plan at a meeting Monday night.  

The district's plan is two-pronged, accounting for both the situation where the district could operate “normally” or the situation where they would have to have some covid restrictions in place.  

“One is sunshine and rainbows and nothing is wrong,” Board member Amber Madl said, “the other is ‘boo covid.’”  

Two major takeaways of the plans are: one, as of right now masks are not required, although students may wear them if they feel more comfortable, and two, those who have been vaccinated will not have to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus.  

“This is a much more scaled-down version of what we had last year,” USD 250 Superintendent Richard Proffitt said. “I think it's easier to understand and read and pretty much covers everything we have seen so far.” 

Additionally, the district’s plan calls for all students to be back in the classroom once more unless they have a serious documented medical condition.  

“We will not have a full remote option,” Proffitt said, “the only time we will have remote is for students with medical conditions, which we will work out with individual families, and isolation.” 

Proffitt said although they have created two separate and distinct plans, it's not necessarily a definitive “either/or” decision, and emphasized that the plans and the document can change as circumstances change.  

“We can be fluid and moving in and out of these things given the data and the recommendations by the county health officials,” Proffitt said.  

The approval of the district’s plan comes on the heels of surging case numbers and a push by local health officials to get vaccinated.  

“The single greatest protective element from the virus is the vaccine,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Tim Stebbins in a press conference Tuesday morning, “and we are encouraging anyone not vaccinated to seek the vaccine.” 

Currently, those ages 12 and up can get a vaccine. Stebbins also said his current recommendations to local school districts had not changed but could if cases continue to trend up. 

“We are monitoring it closely,” Stebbins said. “What we don’t want to do is a knee-jerk reaction, like we did in the beginning […] to immediately go to the highest level of mitigation without data to support it, I think would be disingenuous to the community and would create more distrust in us. What we want to do is to appropriately measure that response based on the data that we are seeing. Current data, current science and a dash of common sense as we move forward.”