Blue Valley Board of Education rescinds decision to follow county’s guidelines for opening schools

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Gating criteria from the Kansas State Department of Education

Macy Kennedy, Staff writer

Blue Valley’s Board of Education rescinded their decision to follow the Johnson County Health Department’s gating criteria on Aug. 18. The board had previously voted to follow JCDHE’s criteria on Aug. 10. 

The health department’s guidelines placed Blue Valley and other districts countywide in a “red zone,” which meant the district would start with a remote learning format.

From the county health department’s guidelines, “red zone” means that the “Previous 14 days show ≤15% percent positive tests and steady or decreasing new cases.” The percent positive on Aug. 18 was 11.4%.

JCDHE met with superintendents on Aug. 18 and advised them to start remotely. The school board then held a special meeting at Blue Valley Northwest High School’s Performing Arts Center to discuss its reopening plan.

After a presentation by district officials and hours of public comment from students, parents and teachers, the board voted 7-0 to rescind their Aug. 10 decision to follow the JCDHE’s gating criteria. In its place, the board plans to adopt the gating criteria provided by the State of Kansas, with modifications. The district indicated they would put together a committee to decide where the district falls on the State of Kansas recommendations. The state’s recommendation graphic can be seen here

The gating criteria from the state has five elements, while the JCHDE has one: percent positivity.

“The five-angled, or five-pronged approach provided by the State of Kansas offers a lot more benefit and accuracy in assessing communities with a lot more gating criteria as well,” superintendent Tonya Merrigan said during the meeting. 

This “five-angled approach” goes into more detail regarding specifics of communities and attendance rates.  Another board meeting is planned for Friday, Aug. 21. 

“It is reasonable to suspend our current criteria for development and come back to the board with recommendations by Friday,” Merrigan said during the meeting. 

School is currently scheduled to begin for all students on Sept. 9.