Dear Students, Parents, and Community Members,

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support of Kenesaw Public Schools and your understanding during this unprecedented and trying time within our nation.  It is important that we unite as one and support one another, care for each other, and be prepared to demonstrate our resolve, determination, and GRIT. We are Kenesaw Proud and together we will do what is needed to overcome the Coronavirus.

This communication will include several pieces of important information.  First off, Nebraska Education Commissioner, Matthew Blomstedt, with the support of Governor Ricketts, has recommended that schools not return to normal operations for the 2019-20 school year.  Blomstedt stated, “…I understand if you have doubts about the severity of this crisis. However, I do not have any doubt as I have been witness to the information and discussions that make me certain about the public health risk to all of Nebraska and the nation.”  In similar fashion, South Heartland District Health and Central District Health strongly recommended that all schools served by Educational Service Unit 9 close school doors until April 30th, with a review of the situation taking place on April 16th.

Based on these recommendations, Kenesaw Public Schools will be closed through Friday, May 1st.  We will reevaluate conditions on April 16th as advised.

Although the school doors will be closed, providing an education for our students will continue.  A Continuity of Learning Plan has been devised and is currently being implemented. This plan has been shared on the Kenesaw Public Schools website.  Teachers will focus on some new learning as well as enrichment activities. Kenesaw principals will continue to work closely with teachers, students, and parents to help them determine if the “right amount” of school work is being assigned and whether instructional delivery is supporting student learning.  Please continue to complete the surveys provided as this helps us to adapt as needed. I would also like to note that our teachers have worked extremely hard making the transition to online instruction and they should be commended for their strong efforts. They have and will continue to do a fantastic job.  We are well ahead of where other school districts are at.

As you know, KPS is providing a free lunch and breakfast for the next morning to any child age 18 and under.  We will send out a weekly survey each Friday afternoon that will be collected by 5:00 pm each Sunday to assist us with determining the number of meals we will need to prepare and locations they will need to be dropped off at.  If you miss completing this survey, please call the school with your request for meals.

To all of our students and especially our Seniors, I know that all of you would rather be in school right now.  Please know that we would rather have you in school too and that administration, teachers, and staff love you and miss you very much.  This is certainly not what we envisioned for the end of school year. I realize that you have questions about prom and graduation among other things.  What I know is that these activities will not take place on their scheduled dates. I also know that the district will do everything in our power to hold a prom and graduation even if it means doing so in the summer.  We will work hard to make this happen, but ultimately we must follow the recommendations of local health professionals, NDE, and Governor Ricketts.

At the current time, the Nebraska School Activities Association has not canceled spring activities.  We will keep you posted on any decisions that are made by the NSAA.

Be Kind, Be Compassionate, Be Supportive, Be Kenesaw.

This is what and who we are as a community. In my short time here you have taught me this many times over.  As I peruse Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, I occasionally come across posts where community members are not “Being Kenesaw.”  In times of tribulation it is important for everyone to be supportive, encouraging, and to help a neighbor in need. Everyone must do their part.  Please think before you post and consider lifting people up with praise and inspiration. Stay above the line. This is what we teach our children daily at KPS.

Today, I spoke with Michele Bever, Director at South Heartland Health District.  She indicated that travel across state boundaries can increase the risk of spreading the virus and suggested that people stay home whenever possible.  Michele further advised that all individuals returning from out-of-state should consider social distancing at the very least and self-quarantine if at all possible.  Self-quarantine is only a recommendation and is not a court ordered action at this time. Michele felt that people that are not in close contact with others during the time they are out-of-state do not pose a significant health threat.  If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact South Heartland District Health.

We understand that the Coronavirus, in all likelihood, will continue to spread across our nation in the days and weeks to come.  It is imperative that we work together to lessen the impact this virus can have on friends, family, and loved ones. In order to not overrun our hospitals and healthcare facilities, we must flatten the curve.  We can do this by:

  • Practicing social distancing.  Stay 6 feet away from the person or persons next to you.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people and stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching our eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough with your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue away in the trash.

By minimizing travel, limiting contact with others, not congregating in groups larger than 10 people (preferably limit to only a few people), and staying home whenever possible, we can further reduce the community spread of COVID-19.  Other suggestions include not going to shopping malls or movie theaters, and only having one person go into stores for supplies and groceries. All of the small things can collectively have a large impact.

Please know that Kenesaw Public Schools is here to support you.  We will continue to share information with you as we receive it. Frequently check the KPS webpage, Facebook, and Twitter for updated information.  Additionally, we will continue to make important communications through Power Announcements when information is needed to be shared quickly. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas, please contact the school and visit with a building principal or me.  We are in this together and together we must stand as one!

With Great Respect,

Rick Masters, Superintendent