Blue Valley credits mask wearing for moving back to classrooms next month

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — In-person education will resume for all students in Blue Valley schools next month, and district leaders say face masks are a big reason why.

All grade levels will be back in the classroom for at least two days a week. Every student who registered for in-person learning will get it starting Oct. 5.

The district reviewed the latest infection rate data released Monday and determined, based on the state criteria it’s using, that the district is in the “yellow” zone.

With mitigation measures in place, elementary students will start receiving full in-person education five days a week on October 5.

Middle and high school students will begin a hybrid schedule at the same time. They’ll alternate between in-classroom and at-home learning and will be divided into “A” and “B” groups.

There will be no distance learning on Fridays so that students get as much time in school as possible. Bus schedules will adapt to the new hybrid format.

“We have learned quite a bit from seeing our elementary students,” said Kristi McNerlin, the district’s chief communications officer. “The mitigation factors that we have put in place, we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work.

“We’ve learned for sure that mask wearing is one of the most critical things we can do to stop the spread. That’s really important and something we are stressing when moving to in-person. Mask wearing is one of the number one factors.”

At-home work will include scheduled check-ins and Zoom sessions with the in-person classes.

The virus infection rate could change this plan, but the district said families will receive two weeks notice before any change is implemented.

Activities and athletics will continue with mitigation in place. Middle school athletics are expected to begin in October.

Anyone who registered for all-virtual instruction is not impacted by these changes.

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