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Dr. Higgins to recommend delayed start to school year

OneMa1ze, 

At 7 p.m. Monday, July 27, the Maize Board of Education will host a special meeting. I intend to recommend a delayed start to our 2020-21 school year for the sake of the health and safety of all of OneMa1ze. This also allows necessary time for our district to finalize safety protocols and provide needed professional development for our educators and employees, including that to support the education and social-emotional needs of our students in this evolving environment. Under this recommendation, the first day of school for Maize USD 266 would be Sept. 8. 

Monday’s Maize Board of Education meeting will be conducted virtually and broadcast live on the district YouTube channel at bit.ly/Maize266YouTube. Those interested can visit the link to watch the meeting.

Theoretically, we could return to school as normal with the original start day of Aug. 11 and “hope” the current environment and COVID-19 cases and related concerns improve. However, hope is not a strategy or plan, and hope alone clearly has not worked at any other level. We must do our part to slow the spread of this virus and encourage others to do the same. We can’t keep taking steps backward, or we will place ourselves in a perpetual state of decision-making regarding “normal” schooling. I am confident that this proposed delayed start also provides us with the greatest chance of a successful school year and reduces the likelihood that we would be forced into full-time remote learning for all students because of COVID-19 exposure and related quarantine.

The district and I routinely communicate that the safety of our students and employees is a top priority. Now is the time to demonstrate that we mean it, and this serious situation warrants this kind of action and response. 

Looking forward, the Maize Board of Education will meet for its regular monthly meeting on Aug. 10 when board members will consider decisions regarding the district’s Together for Tomorrow (T4T) Reopening Plan, amended 2020-21 District Calendar, and athletics and activities, pending Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) rules and guidelines. As we continue to further develop and finalize plans in the next two weeks and provide additional answers via the Q&A document, we will continue to update our OneMa1ze community via the T4T Reopening Plan resource page at www.usd266.com/T4TReopeningPlan

In recent days and weeks, we have received an incredible amount of communication from families, employees, and community members via the t4t@usd266.com e-mail address. District leaders and board members have reviewed every communication. While we are unable to respond individually, we continue to work to provide answers to those questions and thoroughly evaluate the suggestions. 

I am committed to more than just the education of our students: I must look out for the overall and long-term health and well-being of our school community. Your understanding, support, and collaboration is greatly appreciated during this challenging time. As OneMa1ze, please join me in pulling together for a common goal to best serve our children and community.

Thank you.

Dr. Chad Higgins

Superintendent of Schools

Maize USD 266