Parents and students have faced some tought decisions this month as the start of school looms while the county, state and nation works to contain the spread of pandemic COVID-19.


The pandemic has led to new decisions for parents to make, and this week Lincoln Elementary principal reached out to parents as they work through the decision of having their children attend school online or in a classroom


"Our USD 418 families have some tough decisions to make for this school year," wrote Cody Rierson in a letter to parents dated Aug. 11." We are offering families the choice to either enroll in a ‘Remote’ option or a ‘Face to Face’ option."


One of the unknowns for those eyeing a classroom is how often their children will actually be in school — gating criteria is being issued by the Kansas Department of Education is being issued to help districts decide if students can, or should, be in school all day, every day, or if they will need to be in school only a few days a week.


The McPherson school district guidance states if the community risk is low, then students should be in school for face-to-face instruction. If the risk is "moderate," then students will be in school for a "hybrid model," meaning in school buildings part-time at getting courses online for the remainder of the week. If community risk is high, then students will move to a remote (online only) model.


"We are all experiencing a fluid situation in which we anticipate that we will need to move to various modalities of learning," Rierson wrote. "... Currently, McPherson County is in the ‘Moderate Risk’ zone. Due to this, LES will begin school on September 1, 2020 in a Hybrid model of learning."


Students with the last name beginning with A-K will attend school in the mornings and students with the last name beginning with L-Z will attend school in the afternoon.


"As we move through the school year we will continue to follow the guidance of public health officials in moving within the … learning structures:," Rierson wrote.


Teachers and staff at LES will start their school year with training and in-service Monday.


"The safety of the students and staff is the sole motivation for our return to school protocols," Rierson wrote. "We are committed to ensuring that we follow the guidance of our local and state health experts in maintaining safety protocols such as daily temperature checks, frequent surface cleaning, hand sanitization, social distancing when possible, and mask wearing. We expect that the staff and students at LES will wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth."