School services set to continue despite shutdown

March 19, 2020

The school board has committed to taking care of its employees, students and their families in the wake of COVID-19 shutting down. They will continue to pay teachers, hourly workers, transportation staff and contract workers. 

The Kansas government announced that they will continue to provide funding originally promised to pay school workers for the remainder of the school year. 

“I’m grateful that our legislature [and] governor put [legislation paying school workers] in there,” Assistant superintendent Eric Reid said. “It was a protection to make sure we did the right thing. I think we would have done the right thing anyway, but it’s also a protection that they will fund us what they said they would fund us…. This is ‘we’re going to come through with the money, you be fair to the people.’ And that’s a great thing.” 

The National Education Association Manhattan-Ogden and USD 383 board of education have created a Memorandum of Agreement that gives an outline for employees at this time. It outlines a multitude of precedents including: The formation of a Labor Management Committee to manage conflicts, the assertion that teachers will be paid their full salaries if they comply with continuous learning guidelines and that extra-curricular supervisors such as coaches will be paid their salaries.  

The situation for childcare regarding children usually in school is still undecided, and any childcare agency will need state permission to continue operating. Childcare in groups will prove difficult under social isolation standards of gathering under ten people. The lack of childcare is likely to cause economic hardship due to students’ parents being forced to stay home.

“I want to recognize and value those people that are already providers and try to support them in any way they can,” Superintendent Dr. Marvin Wade said. “As opposed to moving these students, those young kids into a school type setting. So I think it’s going to be more how we bolster and support those providers that are already there out there in our community.”

The school fed 1,091 students with sack lunches and breakfasts on March 18 and will continue to open feeding sites across Manhattan. The sites are open to all students between the ages of 1 and 18. School feeding isn’t currently reaching all students who qualify for free or reduced lunch — some 40% of the district — and hope to increase those numbers.

“We’re adding… three additional sites, we’re trying to identify different areas where we can reach more students that maybe aren’t able to come to our facilities,” Stephanie Smith child nutrition director said. And then we’re working with KST. “We’re continuing to work on it. It’s not perfect, yet. And I don’t know that we’ll get to the perfect but we haven’t given up on the ones that we’re not reaching. We’re still trying to find a way to reach them.”

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