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Schools deliver continuous learning plan

The following statement was released by Derby Public Schools at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24.

Derby Public Schools will be providing updates and resources for our families and staff during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Please know the following information is what we know at this time (10:30AM, March 24) and is subject to change. 

  • Student Device Pick-Up and Essential Item Pick-Up: Secondary students have 1:1 personal devices already issued to them. Elementary students will be able to pick-up school devices (iPads for K-1, Chromebooks for 2-5) if they do not have a device already at home they wish to utilize. A pick-up schedule this week is available HERE for elementary families to allow all students time to safely pick up student devices, essential items like medication or chargers/instruments if they were left at school. If you are a secondary school family, click HERE to request a time for essential items pick up from a middle school and HERE for the high school. Please do not bring your entire family to pick up essential items. There will be a time at a later date in the school year for a complete pick-up of student items that are not essential (this includes pencil boxes, etc). Please adhere to Kansas State Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) travel guidelines. Check the list HERE. If you have traveled to one of these places or in self-quarantine, do not visit the building during these times. Please contact your building principal if you can not pick up during your designated time by school phone or email. (view phone/emails HERE)

  • Continuous Learning Plans: Derby Public Schools staff are working this week to develop Continuous Learning plans for all students. Staff development and planning is taking place this week with a goal to begin delivering a continuous learning model to students starting March 30, 2020. We will hold Zoom informational meetings for families at the designated times below. 

  • Zoom Meeting for Questions: We are aware there are many unanswered questions at this time. We will continue to provide updates as information is available. Online Zoom meetings are scheduled for Thursday, March 26 for families to receive further information and ask questions directly to district leadership. The links to these meetings are on the website.

    • 10:30-11:30 AM: Elementary 

    • 1:00-2:00 PM: Middle School

    • 2:30-3:30 PM: High School

    • 4:00-5:00 PM: Middle School

    • 5:30-6:30 PM: High School

    • 7:00-8:00 PM: Elementary 

*We will record the Zoom times for parents to later view on our website. Please only pick one session to attend per age group. Limited #’s to first 1,000, per Zoom restrictions. 

We will continue to communicate with families via Skylert, our mass notification tool, and post on www.derbyschools.com. Please note our website has a translation feature. Click on "Select Language" and choose your preferred language from the dropdown.

Thank you for your support during this time!


Heather Bohaty 

Superintendent of Schools

STORY AS OF 3/24, 9:31AM 

After meeting with nearly 1,000 faculty and staff through video conference calling, Derby superintendent Heather Bohaty confirmed its Monday, March 30 start date for continuous learning. 

It’s a part of a massive overhaul for Kansas education, responding to the K-12 building closure by Governor Laura Kelly. USD 260 teachers began preparation for this teaching at the end of Spring Break before starting meetings on March 23 that will run through the end of the week.

“Staff has worked extremely hard to be at the point we’re at today,” Bohaty said at the March 23 board of education meeting. “… people have been willing to jump in so that we can move forward with a continuous learning plan for the district.” 

A task force was formulated by the Kansas Department of Education, helping state school districts to form a plan that would provide a guide for all K-12 schools. Swaney Elementary teacher Azure Henwood and Derby North Middle School teacher Dr. Brent Wolf were each a part of that group. 

Bohaty said the district now has that plan in hand, but has now constructed a team of nearly 100  faculty and staff members to review it and prepare it for USD 260 students specifically. 

These classes will be done digitally; however, the Derby superintendent also clarified that paper packets will be available for families who choose not to do online learning. 

“The plan for staff and student pickup of items adheres to [Kansas Department of Health and Environment] guidelines,” Bohaty added. 

Specific assignments, class details and coordination with teachers will be discussed in a series of ZOOM conference calls with district faculty and staff. These sessions will take place on Thursday, March 26 and they will have multiple times available for elementary, middle and high schools. 

Bohaty also confirmed that all student and staff training professional development has been cancelled. 

“Our finance office is working on getting any of those funds back from any of those cancellations,” she added.

The Derby superintendent requested the board of education consider action on the following items: requiring only 21 (instead of 25) credit hours for seniors in the 2019-2020 school year, paying all staff through the end of the year, and also development of delivery of the continuous education plan. 

District unveils free meal service on March 23

The school district reported that it gave 763 pre-packaged meals to families this past Monday. 

Bohaty said the meals were prepared by district staff at the Derby Public Schools Central Kitchen. They were then given to families at the site as well as Oaklawn Elementary in Wichita. 

Depending on numbers in the incoming days, Bohaty said the possibility of a third location exists. At the district board meeting, she said they’d like to explore a location near Wineteer Elementary School.

“I’m so glad this opportunity is available for our community,” Bohaty said. “Obviously, there was a need as you can see by the numbers.”

City extends measures to prevent spread of COVID-19

A number of additional measures were taken by the city of Derby this week to increase its efforts to fend off the spread of coronavirus.

With the already announced temporary closures of city hall and the senior center, the Welcome Center was added to that list, with all three shuttered as of March 18.

Meeting structure is also being amended to further the city’s commitment to social distancing – with the planning commissioners and city council members being allowed to participate remotely in the immediate future. 

Commission and council meetings will feature a teleconferencing option moving forward, while some commissioners and staff will remain on site in the council chambers (to allow for live streaming, etc.).

Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton noted the agenda is being streamlined as well as an added precaution – with some items being moved to the consent agenda and the public forum being eliminated for a time, though citizens can still email or call city hall with their questions and concerns.

Additionally, to limit traffic flow to the city building, new measures are being implemented in regards to permits and utility payments.

For permits, licenses and inspections, applications will be available inside the front doors of city hall or at DerbyKS.com. Forms can then be emailed to permits@derbyweb.com or left in the drop box in front of city hall labeled “water payments only.” Payment by credit card can be handled over the phone (316-788-1519), while check payments will also be accepted at the water bill drop box.

Large plans can be left in the designated box inside the front doors of city hall, along with the corresponding application and payment.

The city has also implemented new procedures for inspection of water heaters and heating/air conditioning systems in currently occupied residences. Contractors installing water heaters and HVAC equipment will be given instructions on how to submit a video of their installation so a city inspector does not need to enter the home. Inspections of new construction (unoccupied) will continue as normal.

As for utility (water) payments, payment can be handled similarly to permits by either calling 316-788-1424, visiting DerbyKS.com/water or dropping checks/money order in the drop box outside city hall. New forms are available at the same website or inside the front doors of city hall. Those forms can be returned to utilitybilling@derbyweb.com or the drop box.

Communications Director Kristy Bansemer also noted the city is adhering to Gov. Kelly’s executive order signed March 17, which temporarily prohibits the disconnection of utility services (like water) in an effort to mitigate the economic effects of the spread of COVID-19.

Other measures the city has taken include moving congregate meals to delivery only as of March 21, closing public restrooms at city parks and barring anyone who has been instructed to self-quarantine from the city building or from riding the Derby Dash during their quarantine period.

“Protecting public health is clearly our priority,” said Mayor Randy White. “Everyone in the community is dealing with a lot right now. We all have concerns, and I am confident we will get through this. It is also a good time to check on neighbors and family.”

COVID-19 takes toll on spring break business

Once schools go on break mid-semester, it is typically a time of travel and family fun. However, as with most walks of life, the current coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into those plans.

Destination businesses – like Derby’s Field Station: Dinosaurs – are taking a hit under the current conditions, with a lot of revenue typically coming in during the week of spring break.

“That was actually one of our busiest weeks of the year last year,” said Field Station Executive Producer Guy Gsell. “Everybody’s in the same boat, so you can take some solace in the fact that we’re not in this by ourselves. Everyone is in the same situation.”

Coronavirus precautions (social distancing, public gathering limitations, etc.) forced Field Station to cancel its spring break preview week outright. Beyond that, though, the park is preparing for an even larger impact, as guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend such businesses stay closed for eight weeks.

With that extended shutdown, Field Station will lose all the school dates already scheduled as well as spring weekends, which could be quite significant.

“The earliest we’re going to open now is Memorial Day weekend, so that’s going to be losses in the six digits for us, which is really a daunting loss. It was an important part of our season,” Gsell said.

Another Derby attraction that could also feel that impact is Rock River Rapids water park, something Derby Recreation Commission Superintendent Chris Drum said has been discussed.

Possible impacts of the pandemic have been talked about in regards to the city-owned park (managed by the DRC), but currently the DRC is working with lifeguards and staff as if the park will follow its normal schedule – typically reopening for the summer on Memorial Day.

“We still have full expectations to do that and we are proceeding with all of our trainings and plans to do so,” Drum said.

For the DRC and its activity centers, even with the temporary shutdown, Drum noted there were not too many spring break activities planned that the organization lost business on, though it is a time when the DRC is seeing increased traffic (with kids being out of school, people visiting, etc.).

Outside of the revenue ramifications, staffing has also been hit by the pandemic – as Gsell noted Field Station had to lay off employees at present due to the shutdown. Similarly, the DRC has had to furlough part-time staff.

“Tourism is hit early in any kind of economic downturn. It’s sort of the thing that people can most easily take off their list of spending – the vacation they were going to take, the trip they were going to make – so we’re very concerned about the economic impact that this will have going forward,” Gsell said. “We’ll get over the hump of the virus, but how long will this continue to impact the economy and what will that do for the kind of tourism that we rely on? It’s a serious concern of ours because it’s one of the industries that’s hit first and hit hardest.”

Moving beyond the park closure, Gsell said there aren’t many more measures it can take to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

After the shutdown, though, Gsell noted Field Station will have a deep cleaning before reopening and the park will take into consideration implementing any further recommendations that the county, state or CDC may make.

Given the nature of the park itself (not being an enclosed space), Gsell is optimistic about what the future holds once the current coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

“Hopefully when we reopen and people are looking for something to do, they’ll know that we’re an outdoor attraction,” Gsell said. “We’ll be safe and we’ll be doing everything that we can to make sure all our guests are safe and have a great time.”