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El Dorado schools prepping for new year

Chad Frey
cfrey@thekansan.com
School will look very different when classes resume in the El Doraod School District Aug. 26.

When the governor ordered school buildings closed this spring to try and slow the spread of COVID-19, schools statewide had days to try and rebuild educational services and delivery systems.

They responded, with online offerings and packets sent home with students. And, this summer, they have been using what they learned during the last quarter of the 2020-21 school year to rebuild education again — this time for the launch of the 2021-2022 school year.

“It seems like that a little bit. You monitor and adjust,” said Theresa Tosh, superintendent of El Dorado schools. “We adjust to whatever the needs are and make sure that the people in our community have choice and needs for their families.”

El Dorado schools recently announced a new start date for students — August 26. This came after the governor attempted to order schools to wait until after Labor Day, only to see the state board of education reject that order in favor of local control.

El Dorado chose to delay school. According to the district website, the delay “will allow the district to better prepare staff for safely welcoming students back to school.”

Teachers will start training Aug. 5 for a new education model — and a new initiative for El Dorado Schools.

The new model will allow a choice for parents — including online only school, in school for a couple days of week along with online for the remainder of the week and in school every day. he district will follow guidance from the Butler County Health Department to determine which one to utilize to keep staff and students as safe as possible.

“I have no idea [what the district would do today],” Tosh said. “To make the decision will take conversations with the health department and the looking at the numbers. … There are a lot of people to wrap their heads around that decisio.”

But she does know that teachers will be training this week — how to handle online education, the needs of students as things fluctuate and on a new initiative called “Capturing Kids Hearts.”

It is the latter that Tosh is the most excited about, and something she said is not COVID-19 related.

“It is a process and a model to build to grow groups and individuals. It talks a lot about respect from teacher to teacher, student to student, teacher to student and student to teacher,” Tosh said. “It is about growing high quality groups and high quality students. I have experience with it in the past at it is pretty phenomenal. … I use it in my personal life all the time.”

As the district was working to create a model and calendar for 2021-22, there was a ton of information coming to administration — recommendations from health care professionals and the state board of education were considered. Also considered were thousands of parent surveys.

Tosh told the Times-Gazette more than 2,000 surveys and pieces of information were considered as the plan was created.

“I have been improessed with our community,” Tosh said. “…. Is everybody 100 percent happy, I don’t think so. But our community has been respectful and they have been phenomenal. Even on those issues that are difficult to talk about.”

The district plan contains guidelines for daily temperature screening; the use of masks by student and staff when social distancing cannot be maintained; washing hands; a prohibition of handshakes, high fives and hugs; how to handle bus transportation and meals.

“I think we are in a good spot,” Tosh salad.

Classes will look different in El Dorado schools this year -- students and staff will be required to wear masks when social distancing cannot be observed. The school year will start Aug. 26.