Return to School

June 18, 2020
Update from Superintendent Dr. Scott McWilliams


I hope the beginning of summer for you and your family has been healthy and enjoyable. The purpose of this message to all parents is to provide an update and timeline on when you will begin receiving factual information about Auburn-Washburn's "Return to School Plan" for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

It is important to preface this message by stating up front that it is my sincere desire to have all schools open for all students in August to safely and successfully kick-off the 2020-21 school year. Student and staff safety will remain a top priority as we continue to plan for the upcoming year, but we believe there are many significant benefits for students to return to school this upcoming year.

To be best prepared for a safe and successful 2020-21 school year, contingency planning is occurring at two levels. One, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) has created numerous subcommittees tasked with establishing guidelines for all public schools in the areas of operations (bus transportation, sanitation and cleanliness, mass gatherings during the school day, etc.) and teaching and learning (curriculum standards, grading, assessments, technology integration, distance learning, etc). Two, we have pulled teams together within Auburn-Washburn to create our own contingency plans based on currently known facts. Nearly each day this summer is dedicated to contingency planning for the upcoming school year. We are exploring ways to gather feedback from stakeholders to aid in this planning.

KSDE will publicize their guidelines on July 10. In Auburn-Washburn, we will have completed our initial “Return to School Plan” prior to July 10. Once we receive the guidelines from KSDE, we will compare our contingency plans with KSDE guidelines. We will make the necessary adjustments to our plans as efficiently as possible after July 10.

Once the Auburn-Washburn "Return to School Plan" is finalized, it will be shared with the Shawnee County Health Department. We will remain in close communication with the Shawnee County Health Department as we prepare for the upcoming 2020-21 school year as well as throughout the year. They serve as local health experts for all schools in Shawnee County, and we appreciate their guidance and expertise greatly. Our partnership with them will be critically important as we continue to work through COVID-19-related questions.

Once the Auburn-Washburn "Return to School Plan" is finalized and supported by the Shawnee County Health Department, which will most likely be toward the end of July, it will be shared with all staff and parents, and it will be posted on the Auburn-Washburn website. Due to the pace of change regarding facts related to COVID-19, it would not be helpful to make public initial planning efforts at this early stage as things will continue to change from what is known today compared to known facts in late July and early August. We will remain informed, yet patient, as we continue to plan this summer. The Auburn-Washburn "Return to School Plan" will remain a live document as we proceed through the 2020-21 school year, because as new facts are learned, it may change our approach.

At this point, I encourage you to enjoy the summer days and remain healthy and well. Please know that we will continue working hard this summer to be prepared and ready for a safe and successful 2020-21 school year. After the Auburn-Washburn "Return to School Plan" is shared in late July, we will be prepared to respond to questions leading up to the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Take Great Care,

Dr. Scott McWilliams
Superintendent of Schools