Virtual Announcement New Start Date

NEW Start Date!
Posted on 07/31/2020
University Academy Families,

UA has decided to back up the start of the school year to September 8th, and we will be going virtual for the first quarter (September 8 - October 23).  We will reevaluate the situation towards the end of the first quarter to determine what the second quarter will look like.    As of today, we have about 600 students participating in virtual summer school, so we are learning every day how to get better in a virtual environment.

I want to be transparent with the rationale for this move.  There were a number of factors leading up to this decision.  Three of the biggest factors are:

1)  The rate of COVID-19 transmission continues to grow in the metro area.  To that end, the Mayor and the KC Health Department recommended schools consider pushing back the start of the school year to September 8th to give more time for all of us to help curb the spread of the virus.  This won't happen if we don't all do our part.  We all need to make sure we are wearing our masks and maintaining distance in social situations, and encourage others to do so.  

2)  Because so many surrounding districts and charters have also pushed back to September 8th, we were concerned about our ability to be fully staffed for an August 18 start date.  Some staff have students in other schools and those staff would have had the right to an FMLA leave to care for their own children.   In addition, some of our families have students at UA and at KCPS or other charters.  This will help align the schedules. 

3)  Given the ever-changing guidance we are getting from a number of agencies, it has become very difficult to plan for a moving target.  All indications led us to believe that we would likely have to shut down on campus classes as soon as we had confirmed cases.   Our reopening plan, which follows CDC guidance, states that the campus would close for 5 days upon an active case, and exposed students and staff would have to quarantine for 14 days.   It just didn't seem to make sense to start school, only to inevitably have to move to virtual within a short period of time.    So, we are going to err on the side of caution, and hopefully learn from schools around the country that do go back to school during the first quarter. 

Computers -  Currently, UA has about 400 computers and tablets out to students right now.  We will be making plans over the next few weeks to distribute additional devices closer to the first day of school.   We will be sending out more information in mid to late August.  

Sports -   Fall sports are going to be allowed to continue, with enhanced safety precautions.   Most Missouri high schools are continuing to plan to play fall sports, even in a virtual education modality.  Participation is 100% voluntary for coaches and student-athletes.  In addition to continuing to work with Children's Mercy on athletic safety protocols, we have made the decision to not allow spectators at athletic events.  Mr. Gresham will be working out all the details for protocols and live broadcasting of games.

Limited in-person supports -   It is our goal to be able to devise a plan that will allow students to receive some in-person instruction, by appointment and depending on student needs.   Teachers and administrators will be working together over the coming weeks to determine what supports can be offered, which faculty are willing to deliver those supports in person and what the safety protocols will be.    No student will be required to participate in any in-person instruction.   But, we know there is a need and desire for some students to have that opportunity, so we are going to try to make that happen in a way that makes sense and is safe.

Summer School -  I am so proud of the students, staff, and parents that participated in summer school.  The in-person school went very very well.  It was a huge challenge for us to plan and execute the protocols, but we did it.   The kids were great!   And, for those doing virtual school, you are seeing that it's a much better experience than last spring.  Each day of virtual summer school, it will get a little easier and we'll get better.   Almost 60% of UA students are getting a head start on what virtual education will look like in the fall, so I'm happy about that.  

2020-2021 School Calendar

Tony Kline, Superintendent

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