Ottawa school opening plan continues to be fluid

Greg Mast
The Ottawa school district's opening school plan is still being developed following Gov. Laura Kelly's order that schools will not open before Labor Day.

The upcoming school opening plans are changing by the day.

Earlier this week, the Ottawa school district was all set to get schools started in mid-August with options to attend both in person or remotely/virtually.

Those plans were are no longer in place following Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order to postpone the opening of schools until after Labor Day. She further identified that the reopening plan provided by the Kansas State Department of Education would be mandated when schools do reopen.

“As has been the norm since March, what we thought we had a plan for will now be drastically changed,” said Ottawa superintendent Ryan Cobbs. “Therefore, I wanted you all to know that the enrollment process will not open Monday as planned. We will take the next week to review the current mandates and reevaluate what our opening options are.

“I believe strongly that we will still have options for parents in this COVID-19 environment, however, they may look very different than what was initially planned. Our staff will be working through the next few weeks to determine how our schools can operate under the mandates, if in person learning can occur and how that might look, what remote learning options remain available, and most importantly how we keep our students and staff safe in our system. Through all of that, the expectation to engage students in learning is still paramount.”

Cobbs said earlier in the week this is a fluid situation and tweaks or even overhaul of the current plans may be necessary.

“You can still expect an update from me every Monday as to what we have learned, developed and planned for, and what we are still trying to determine as to the reopening of our schools,” Cobbs said. “As we know more I will make sure that you are aware.

“I am sorry that our students are having to grow up and learn in this environment. What I can guarantee is that USD 290 and our staff will continue to do their best to ensure that your students are prepared for their future.”

Cobbs said these uncertain times bring a lot of questions that only can be answered with time.

“There are still many items to be answered and we will do our best to inform (district patrons) over the course of the next few weeks prior to the first day of school of all the particulars of that reopening,” he said. “It is important to remember that all of this is very fluid and we will have to shift and adjust as mandates and expectations change from our board, county or state.”