District Update

October 19, 2020

Video Recap of October 19 Newsletter

10.19 Newsletter Recap

Board of Education Information

Board of Education Recap Article

This is not a full recap of all issues discussed at the Board of Education meeting. These are not official minutes. For more information on the Board of Education meeting, click here.



In the October 12 board of education meeting, the board discussed what mode the district would be in for this week (week of October 19). The USD 373 board of education approved the orange mode of learning for the week of October 19 for the flexible mode of education.

Just a reminder about orange:

Orange= PreK-6 Hybrid ; 7-12 Remote; OA On-Site

For more information on the gating criteria, and what the different modes mean: https://www.smore.com/ncwtv

The board will meet again on October 19 to make a decision for the week of October 26.



For the full board meeting:

Board of Education Meeting--October 12

Facebook Live Q&A

Q: How can families check which hybrid group their students are in?

A: They can go to their parent portal and click on the “today” tab.


Q: Why are elementary students going to hybrid?

A: The board makes the decision of what mode the district is in based on three main categories. One is the trend in terms of the incident rate and if it’s steady, up or down. They also look at percent positive and student and staff absenteeism. Two supporting criteria that are available but not used unless needed are the two-week cumulative county incidence rate and hospital capacity.


Q: Are all of the cases students attending class?
A: Not all of our cases are students. We have had staff as well. We are trying to be really clear. We’re not going to put out any kind of information that can be an identifier of any individual. We can’t legally do that and, just from an ethical perspective, we are going to make sure we don’t do that.


Q: Did we include Bethel numbers in the decision to change to orange?

A: Those numbers are included in the Harvey County dashboard statistics. You have to remember those students are now in our community. They’ve been out and about at shops, stores or restaurants.


Q: If the numbers are good, can we move from orange all the way back to green, or do we have to go to yellow first?

A: We will move based on the numbers. So if the numbers correlate to that, then that’s what we will do.


Q: Did the district look into using other buildings in the community for extra space?
A: Yes. However, we found that it would become a staffing issue.


Q: Are masks being enforced?
A: Yes, we have a mask policy.


Q: What do parents do if their students are in different hybrid groups?
A: They really tried to ensure that families were in the same group. However, there are just some instances where it wasn’t possible based on the numbers. Things like band at Santa Fe made it more difficult.


Q: Can students return back on-site from remote after nine weeks?

A: When parents signed up at the beginning of the school year, it was for the semester. However, you can check with your building administration to see what the situation is like in the building. We are trying to make sure our numbers don’t become so imbalanced that it creates an unsafe environment.


Q: Who makes the decision on contact tracing?
A: The Harvey County Health Department ultimately is the one that will produce those orders. We do keep lists for contact tracing and through those lists with the Harvey County Health Department. Sometimes our staff has to do the run of that based on staffing limitations with the health department. It’s all done in conjunction with them.


For the full Q&A:

Superintendent's Corner

The numbers this week taken from logs maintained locally are (as of Thursday 10/17/20):

• Student quarantined: 133

• Staff quarantined: 20

• Cases thus far: 10 (during the school year)


As I am sure all of you are aware, cases are ramping up in the county. We will go through cycles throughout the year. Please continue to do the best you can in spreading the word about masks, social distancing, and hygiene practices.

The district operations and instructional teams made adjustments during the administrative meeting. The adjustments were as follows:

Mask policy regarding recess and physical education.

• The term physical exertion was defined as: Breathing hard, sweating, elevated heart rate. The student may then remove their mask as they (student) feels fit. Simply walking, talking, etc. are not examples of physical exertion.


Wearing Masks on the School Bus

•Encourage compliance. If there are issues with students wearing masks on the bus, drivers will notify building principals to address the issue according to the mask policy.

Information To Know

Student Tech Support Update

Starting Monday, October 19, the process will change for PreK-12 students in remote learning who need tech support. Students or parents (for younger students) will:

1. Contact their teacher about the tech issue they are experiencing. A lot of times teachers can help with the common issues students experience and get it quickly resolved.

2. If it is not something the teacher can help with:

○ the student or parent (for younger students) will send an email to:

studenthelpdesk@usd373.org with the information below:

● Student’s First & Last Name

● School

● Grade

● Description of the problem - please include as much information as possible. This helps the techs resolce the issue more quickly.

○ Note - the system processes responses with USD 373 email addresses more

quickly so it is best for the student or parent (for younger students) to send the email from the student’s USD 373 email account. Parents can do

this right on the student’s Chromebook.

3. A tech will respond to the ticket as soon as they can, prioritizing tickets for staff and students by addressing the most urgent first.

4. Once the tech responds the student/parent that submitted the ticket will get an email from Help Desk with the tech’s information on how to fix the issue or clarifying questions.

5. The student or parent will need to respond to the email with further information or questions.

○ (Note: the active link within the email from Help Desk will not work. The student/parent must reply directly to the email.)

6. If needed the tech may:

○ call the parent/student to help assist in troubleshooting

○ set up a remote Chrome session with the student/parent on the student Chromebook to help troubleshoot

○ arrange for the student to drop their Chromebook off at their school and get a loaner/replacement Chromebook to use while the other Chromebook is worked on


7. Tech will notify the student/parent when the issue is resolved by replying to the ticket which will send an email to the student/parent’s email address that submitted the ticket.

Wearing Masks On The Bus

Please talk with your students who ride the bus about the importance of wearing masks while they are on the bus. This practice has been put in place to ensure the safety of all students.


If students are taking off their masks during the bus route, it will be reported to their school principals who will address the issue according to the mask policy.


Thank you for your cooperation.

Question and Feedback Form

Question and Feedback Form


On all of our district and school websites, you will see a Questions & Feedback button on the home screen. This will lead you to a new form that you can use to get your questions answered more quickly and make sure your feedback goes to the correct person. Please use this form for any emails or questions. You’ll notice a few dropdown menus. If you choose general district, a dropdown menu with a variety of topics will appear for you to choose from. If you select school specific, a dropdown menu will appear with a list of schools for you to choose from.

District Feature

Chisholm Middle School: Empower


Students in the Empower class at Chisholm Middle school spent their first ten minutes of class learning about plastic-eating mealworms, sanitation drones and a variety of different timely topics in a “CNN 10” video. After the video ended, their teacher, Mr. Joynes, called on them to share their thoughts and reactions.


When he does this, not only is he getting students to think critically, he’s also building relationships between himself and the students and between the students themselves--a very important part of the class. And because every student at Chisholm takes this class, every student gets to know Mr. Joynes.


In addition to critical thinking skills, students learn life skills and about different career possibilities through different projects. The class also covers drug and alcohol awareness. A big part of learning these skills goes back to the connection Mr. Joynes makes with the student and the connection the students make with each other.


There is also a large focus on the growth mindset in the class. Mr. Joynes encourages students to think ahead. To realize that what they are doing today could directly impact what job they get or what college they go to.

Video Feature: CTE Welding Pathway

Staff Shout Outs

Have a staff member go above and beyond for your student? Did a coworker go the extra mile to make a difference? Let us know and they'll be featured here! Please email info@usd373.org with the information.


I can’t say enough about our SPED teacher, Michelle Schrag! This year has been difficult in itself. She is not only working the job of 2 teachers but doing it well. She has listened to each parent’s concerns and actually put footwork to how our kids need to learn. Dropping things at our doorsteps for manipulatives to answering emails with a very short amount of time to calm concerns. She’s exactly what this classroom has needed for years! We appreciate her so much!


As a 'regular' substitute teacher at Newton High, I can attest to the knowledge and value of the paras in many of our classrooms. From my perspective as a 'sub', they bring consistency, continuity and routine to the forefront of each class I encounter them in.


I would like to make a 'shout out' to ELL para, Teresa Fisher. She has been extremely helpful in aiding me in trying to make my lessons more successful for our ELL students. I love how she advocates for our students and has their best interests in mind. I admire her passion and enthusiasm.


I feel something should be said about our nurses, and the work they are doing with the covid. I realize we all are doing extra work, but sometimes I feel they just don't get the recognition they deserve. I work along side Karen Lehman. I fear nobody understands how much time she truly is putting in. I know she works the weekends. Not to mention, I don't think she got any time off for summer. I don't even think she has complained. Which surprising seeing how much she does.


My staff shout-out is for Kirstyn Pracht. She has been a great asset for the fifth-grade team and has really provided some great resources for our projects. We would be a little lost without her.


Mrs.Baker 8th grade Chisholm---For being so patient and kind to my child while she was going through her tough times! Amazing teacher!

Beth Burns and Lisa Golubski have been amazing kindergarten teachers. They are always kind, positive, and affirming. Even though the students are remote, they have made it feel like a school family. They also are working diligently to bring educational experiences to their students. Last week, the caterpillars they have been observing emerged as butterflies. This is the perfect example of them bringing real-life learning into the remote setting.

A huge shout out to Nora Miller! She is constantly working to support teachers and staff. We appreciate all she does for us!


Shout out to Megan Nagel for all of the amazing work she’s done to make sure students and staff are supported during these unprecedented times.


I would like to shout out to Rhonda McKibbin. She works with some of the neediest students in the entire district, and she never loses patience with them. She gets up every day and starts fresh with love and patience. She is an outstanding teacher and role model!


Mary Kondziola and Chris McKellip are doing a great job of meeting the needs of remote IEP minutes for K-6th grade. They are flexible and always having to think outside the box!


I'd like to shout-out to Robyn Letcher. She is a para at South Breeze and she does an amazing job with her students. She is so patient and encouraging with all the students she works with!


I just wanted to send a shout out to Coach Jenn Criswell (Freshmen Volleyball). She is doing a great job of encouraging our girls on and off the court. It is so important, at this age especially, for young ladies to have as many strong females believe in them as possible and encourage them to be their best. I know that she is putting in extra time by coaching as well as teaching first graders at South Breeze and she seems to always make time for the ladies she is coaching. Jenn, we see you and appreciate what you are doing for our girls. Thank you so much!


I would like to recognize Adrian Wedel for helping with the transition for many freshmen this year at the high school. Most of these children were in Summit Learning last year and while starting in hybrid mode at the beginning of the year, it was difficult for some to make that transition. I appreciate that as an educator she cares about how her students are performing and her communication with parents. With so much uncertainty this year and a transition to a new school, she has been a shining light for these freshmen parents! Thanks for taking the time.


When you mentioned thinking of a staff member that has gone above and beyond, my mind went to Ronda Dugan, the art teacher at Chisholm. She has been working tirelessly on art packets for remote kids, and like everyone, has been pushing the limits to learn about new platforms online and engaging students in person too! I am so impressed by her and the way she has adapted to new challenges.


Janine Clayton is an amazing teacher! She cares about all of her students! She is often seen going over and beyond by helping the students cope through difficult times.

Valorie Phannenstiel arrives super early to prepare for the day and is often here long after the school day is over. She works with students and families on ways to meet that particular student's needs.

Nick Sisson is doing an amazing job working with kids who are hard to handle. One particular kid has really turned his life around and is working hard in school!

Ryan Emmit makes Science fun.

Gina Skinner and Jenny Bristol are working harder than they have ever worked and are making it super easy looking.

Holly Engel is so patient and caring for all the students that come through the nurses office.

Kelly Alexander is really doing well with classroom management!

Deana Waltrip has a wonderful way of dealing with all different types of people


I would like to recognize Karen Lehman, NHS nurse, for going the extra mile to notify parents of possible exposure to Covid. She contacted me Thursday evening around 6:30pm about the situation. I wasn't contacted by the health department or state until Saturday due to the large volume of people affected. Thanks for going the extra mile to keep our kids safe.


Deborah Gering has been amazing with making my nervous 5th grader feel more comfortable with attending speech services at Santa Fe. I also appreciate that she sends home a calendar with little updates of how he is doing and what he is doing in speech. You’re Awesome Deb!!!


Thank you to Ms. Quispe for being so helpful and working to help her students succeed in high school art class!

Thank you to Ms. Nickel for working hard, even outside of school hours, to help her high school students understand math concepts!

I don’t even know where to begin! The Santa Fe staff have been truly AMAZING!!! Starting with Jenny Bristol and Gina Skinner At the front desk to Heidi Flores!! My daughter has really struggled with going to school this year. She continues to struggle but we take one day at a time. Mrs. Regier, Mrs. Fisher and Mrs. Clayton have been so supportive to not only her but me as well. They all have been so helpful and patient with her. They have that special touch that she needs to feel safe. They understand this isn’t an overnight fix and understand that each day is different so they don’t rush her. She feels welcomed and loved from the time we pull up whether it's Heidi Flores waving really big or doing a happy dance that she is there to Jenny & Gina just holding the door open for her and greeting her with a “Good morning sweetheart”. It makes a huge difference and it is very much appreciated. Mrs. Fischer, Mrs. Regier and Mrs. Clayton have taken the time to get to know her and know when she needs that day whether it’s a side hug or fist bump. They are truly a blessing. I would be lost without them!!

Shout out to Kathy Archer! She had a special talent for her assignment! She also puts in a lot of work!


I’m thrilled with Angela Black’s (a second-grade teacher at Walton) offer to visit students of her class at home. It takes a special person to volunteer her evening time—during a pandemic!—to build relationships with her students through one-on-one playtime. My daughter was so excited to have her over; I am sure this will be a special memory for her of her time in grade school.


Cheryl Nash, first-grade tteacher from Walton Rural Life Center, helped prepare her class for remote learning by taking her students through a mock "at-home" schedule of waking up, eating breakfast and joining class online -- links, passwords and all. My child is confident in her skills to learn remotely because of Mrs. Nash's stellar guidance!


I'd like to give a shout out to our custodian Adam. He has been the only custodian for ALL of NR until this week and that guy has been BUSY. He tries so hard, even though he's behind being the only custodian, he is always friendly and kind. I overheard him cleaning up after a kid that spilled something and he was just so kind. "That's okay buddy, we all have accidents" and other comments like that, on multiple occasions. Even though he's constantly working, he has a wonderful positive attitude!!


Big thank you to Jane Nichols for volunteering to drive a bus to make sure students get from Winning Edge to Latchkey safely.


We'd like to send a shout out to Mrs. Alexander and Mrs. Waltrip. THANK YOU for being so communicative, understanding, and flexible through these strange times. We really appreciate it!


I would like to give a few shout outs. One to Sheila Zwahlen for being a great boss. I would like to give another one to Kelli Schulte. She keeps us in line with where to go and who to pick up, and even steps in to drive when needed. And, lastly, to all the transportation department because everyone has stepped up this year with everything going on. Everyone has each other's back and that's what makes this department great. Since I've been here I was welcomed into this family of great people.


Overall my students have some developmental delays. I have five kids. Every time we drop off my three kids at Northridge, the principals and teachers are just waving. My kids are ‘like they are waving at us again I like her.’ Overall they are very friendly, funny and caring. I couldn’t ask for a better school. They are so great at explaining what’s going on with my kids. I’ve never had a school in 15 years that the kids are so excited about.


All of my teachers deserve a shout out, but I would like to send a special shout out to both Mr. Ives and Mr. Werner at Chisholm Middle School. I look forward to their class each day because I know that they have something planned that is both challenging and interesting. They also take the time to learn about me and share about themselves.