Community News 11/12/20

Community News 11/12/20
Posted on 11/12/2020
Students at the Early College Prep Academy at Lowman Hill

Community

Lowman Hill Students

Students at the Early College Prep Academy at Lowman Hill received their new uniforms that were generously donated by Laird Noller Ford. Thank you for your continued support of TPS students!

Message from the Superintendent

Graduation Rates

Dear Topeka Public Schools Family,

Yesterday our schools celebrated Veterans Day. We thank our Veterans for their sacrifice for us all. This month we celebrated the graduation rates which increased again for the 4th consecutive year. Topeka High and Topeka West have increased their graduation and college placement rates with graduation rates above 91%. Our alternative schools have also increased their graduation rates significantly, despite the many challenges our alternative schools face, with Cap City and Hope Street having over a 15% increase. Click here to view the article highlighting the increases. We congratulate and thank your staff and students who are focused on attaining the college and career readiness skills for the future.

This newsletter also highlights TCALC, who has partnered in an innovative way to launch a CNA program that has job placement opportunities at Stormont, as we fill needed jobs in the future and prepare students to serve in the healthcare industry. We are so grateful for the Spark grant that is making this possible.

Our in-person students have had a positive start to the year. It's our goal to remain serving students in person for as long as possible and when we have to transition briefly to remote due to the lack of a substitute pool and concerns about the spread of the virus impacting our staff and students, we will do so, but we will return to in-person learning as quickly as possible if that occurs.

As we conclude November and parent conferences, we are excited about the new quarter. Schools have a variety of winter activities planned that will be highlighted in our next Community News. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson

Superintendent

 

Shawnee County Scorecard 11/1-11/7

TPS Transitions to Remote Learning as a Proactive Measure Through Thanksgiving

Today, Shawnee County Health Department released its Community Transmission Scorecard, and the county has increased and is currently still in the Red. This is our second consecutive week in the red range at the community level and we are now seeing an increase in the community spread impacting our schools. The county has shared the following regarding the community spread:

  • All measures in the county have worsened since last week.
  • Total cases in the county per week are at a very high level (over 700, a 126% increase since last week)
  • The Health Department had more cases reported in the first 10 days of November than the entire month of October.

As a proactive step, while the positive virus spread is within 1% or less in most schools, the increase in the number of staff impacted due to the spread is preventing our district from being able to successfully support student in-person learning in a safe manner. Many of our regular substitutes have asked to stop substituting for a period this month as they have also been impacted by the community spread. Therefore, to support adequate staffing in a safe setting, we will transition to remote learning through Thanksgiving and we will assess the county scorecard and the impact weekly. We know this may be a hardship to some families and school principals are doing all they can to support needs at this time. Additionally, we are opening 11 lunch sites during the remote phase.

We believe we must act proactively to prevent a significant spread in Topeka Public Schools at this time. The following factors have been reviewed in making this decision:

  • The traditional staff absences during this time of the year along with the COVID -19 related absences that are due to the community exposure are creating widespread staffing shortages that cannot be covered effectively across the district.
  • The district's internal scorecard has shown an increase in community contact cases, although it remains at 1% for staff and below 1% for students. Our TPS Positive Case Rate Scorecard shows the cases we have had in Topeka Public Schools, which has increased from last week.
  • The Shawnee County Community Transmission Scorecard shows an uncontrolled rating and has steadily increased.
  • KDHE has reported the increased spread and clusters in our community although it has not impacted TPS yet.

These factors, and its impact on the district's ability to serve students with adequate staffing have led to the decision at this time that we will transition to remote learning for next week to keep the spread down and to continue instruction through the Thanksgiving holiday.

We will assess the status of the community spread throughout November, and we will inform families through weekly updates. Thank you for your continued support of your children and the district.

Dr. Hackett, Dr. Anderson and Mrs. Wallace dressed as a pumkin and scarecrows

District Hosts Halloween Fun and Festivities

Halloween was on Saturday this year, so schools celebrated on Friday, October 30 with a fun-filled day of costumes, candy and activities. Halloween celebrations included classroom parties and the traditional costume parades that were modified to accommodate social distancing and sanitizing procedures. Students were treated to all sorts of fun and festivities while keeping safety in mind. You can view pictures from all the fall festivities by clicking here. Staff at the Burnett Administrative Center took part in the holiday fun as well by dressing in costumes, decorating, and raffling off fun Halloween prizes.

Teacher

America's Educators to be Celebrated November 16-20

American Education Week, November 16-20, 2020, will present all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. Traditionally TPS has followed KNEA's celebratory week, with each day having its own theme, and we are excited to continue to do so again this year on social media. Additionally, we will celebrate our staff at the end of the year by giving them a token of appreciation for the many great things they do. During this unprecedented time, education looks very different and we have educators to thank for making access to learning possible for all students. We encourage everyone to celebrate by remembering educators who made a difference to them.

Capital City Graduation

TPS Sees Historic High Graduation Rates

Topeka Public Schools increased graduation rates district-wide again this year with historic increases at multiple schools. In addition to the graduation rate increasing across the district, English Language Learners (ELL) continued to achieve record-high graduation rates at 87.2%, and Topeka West High School maintained a 100% graduation rate for ELL students for the third consecutive year. The district has shown every student, regardless of zip code, can succeed in graduating and moving on to careers and college. Capital City High, Topeka High, Avondale West, and Hope Street High, all saw their highest graduation rates in over 10 years during the 2019-20 school year. Topeka High, which serves 1700 students, has steadily increased its graduation rates and they are celebrating having a graduation rate of 91.5%. The alternative school, Hope Street Academy, addresses dropouts and, while historically they have had low graduation rates, they have also increased from a graduation rate of 75% five years ago to 83.6% during the 2019-20 school year. Congratulations TPS Scholars!

TPS Veterans Day

TPS Veterans Day Virtual Events Honor Service Men and Women

Happy Veterans Day! Yesterday we honored those who have served our country. Topeka Public Schools would like to thank all veterans for their service to our country. Many of our schools took the time to recognize our military men and women who have sacrificed so much for all of us. Through virtual presentations, students were able to hear stories from real-life veterans and ask questions about their service. Thank you to all those who have served in the armed forces for your service and sacrifice.

Sheldon Shoe and Coat Drive

Advisors Excel Provides Free Shopping Spree for Sheldon Students

In their tradition of giving back to the community, Advisors Excel provided 185 preschool and kindergarten students at Sheldon Head Start with winter weather gear. Students got to pick out their favorite coat, hat, gloves and shoes. Watch this video showing students excitedly shopping at the event. This is the sixth year Advisors Excel has provided outerwear to help students fight the chill of the winter season. Additionally, Advisors Excel helps fulfill holiday wishes by taking students from across the district to Kohls in December. We thank them for their continued generosity and commitment to our students during this difficult time. To read the story in the news, click here.

Michael Williams

HPH Coach Selected as Top 20 under 40 Honoree

A Highland Park High School coach has been selected as one of Topeka's Top 20 under 40 this year! Michael Williams, the site coordinator for Communities in Schools and Head Basketball Coach at HPH, will be honored on Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m. If you would like to register to attend the event, click here. Through Mr. William's position with Communities in Schools, he works with educators and school administrators to identify challenges that students face in class or at home, and he coordinates with community partners to bring resources to those students. Known affectionately as Coach Mike, Mr. Williams also volunteers as a youth coach for basketball, track and baseball and serves as a board member for Team United Stars, the largest Topeka-based youth track and field program. We are so proud to have such an influential person working with our Highland Park students. Congratulations Coach Williams!

Xavier Noriega

TPS Selects TWHS Senior, Xavier Noriega, as November Senior of the Month!

Exceptional Topeka West High School senior, Xavier Noriega, has been selected as the November Senior of the Month due to his dedication and positive attitude! Noriega excels in academics and leadership, which can be seen through his involvement in varsity cheer and school activities, such as the choir. Noriega values hard work and has learned to balance his busy schedule, taking AP and Honors courses, working two jobs and staying involved in school activities. Following graduation, Noriega plans to attend Kansas University or Washburn University to study Social Work. To watch Noriega's full story, click here. Congratulations, Xavier, we are so proud of you!

 TPS Job Openings with Virtual Walk-In

Come Explore TPS Job Openings with Virtual Walk-In Wednesdays

TPS is now offering virtual walk-in Wednesdays each week where you can explore job opportunities one-on-one with a recruiter. If you want to work for an innovative school district with competitive wages, flexible hours, and great benefits, come join the Topeka Public Schools Family! Our district is a diverse and well-rounded family of teachers, social workers, secretaries, administrators, substitutes and so much more. It is all hands on deck to ensure that we provide the best, and safest, education for all of our students. To sign up to participate in a Virtual Walk-In Wednesday, click here.

Flu Shot

Stay Healthy This Winter By Getting Your Flu Shot!

The winter months are right around the corner, and with the cold weather comes flu season. Now more than ever it's very important to stay healthy and germ-free. Flu vaccinations are now being offered for free at several pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, Dillons and Hy-Vee. You can also get a flu shot from your primary care physician.

For staff, the district health insurance covers 100 percent of the cost of a flu shot at any of the places listed above, or you can call Misty Getsinger at 785-295-3937 to set up an appointment at the service center.

Inclement Weather Information

TPS Transitions Snow Days to Remote Learning Days

As the weather begins to cool, we want to update families and staff about our winter weather notification procedures. This year, snow days will look different across the district, as announced at the November 5, 2020, Board of Education meeting. Due to a late start at the beginning of the school year, the district will now consider snow days as remote learning days. Families will receive notification about remote learning days due to winter weather through Blackboard messaging, we will also update the district social media, district website and contact our local media partners. For more information about remote learning day procedures, please contact your building principal.

TCALC

Public-Private Partnership Invests in TPS Students

A new joint public-private partnership is investing in TPS high school students as potential employees by providing customized career-focused education. SPARK funds will enable Washburn Institute of Technology to expand its Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) training using a new simulation lab that will be located on-site at TCALC. Washburn Institute of Technology will be providing a new pathway that includes the CNA. Students will begin using the new lab equipment as it arrives this fall and the additional CNA classes will begin January 11, 2021.

TPSF Bricks

Latest Honorees Unveiled on TPSF Walk of Honor

The Topeka Public Schools Foundation recently unveiled 24 new bricks and pavers that have been installed on the Foundation Walk of Honor located in front of the Burnett Administration Center. While COVID-19 safety measures currently prevent in-person celebration and an open house unveiling, the new honoree names are provided below in acknowledgment of those honored by staff or loved ones: Dr. Tiffany Anderson, Ken Bennett, Ron Brown, Trip and Lincoln Carter, Barbara Edmonds, Nancy El-Amin, Ron Farrell, Dr. Jennifer Gordon, Janel Johnson, Rodney Johnson, Nancy Kirk, Sandra Lassiter, John Litfin, Dr. Peg McCarthy, John Nesbitt, Carla Nolan, Anne Page, Rev. Augustus and Mrs. Jamie Pearson, Johnnie Sanders, Paul Urbom, Clardy Vinson, Kathy Wilmore, Patrick Woods, and DLR Group.

Walk of Honor bricks are a great gift for Christmas, birthdays, graduation or retirement. Click here for purchase information. If you have not been to the Administration Center, click here for an aerial view of the Foundation Walk of Honor.

childcare aware

Childcare Aware is Offering Enhanced Childcare Referral Services

Finding child care today is more challenging than ever. Shawnee County families can now access additional help with their child care search. Child Care Aware Resource Center staff will conduct an intake with families to gather information about their child care needs, generate a referral list and contact each provider. This will help narrow the search to only programs that meet the family's criteria and have a current opening for the child, saving the family valuable time choosing child care that meets the needs of their family. All services to parents are at no cost and all information shared is confidential.

For more information or to access this free service, Shawnee County families can call 785-357-5171 and select option “1” to speak with a knowledgeable Resource Specialist. The Parent Resource Center's hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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