USD 497 statement on closure

This is the message sent to USD 497 families this afternoon about the closure of school buildings:

Dear Staff and School Families,

It with heavy hearts that we share that Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced today the closure of all K-12 schools in the state for the remainder of the school year. The closure order is effective immediately and follows consultation with Kansas education officials.

As a result, Lawrence Public Schools will be closed through May 21. All school activities also are canceled, unless special permission is granted by the superintendent.

The district continues to discuss options for providing essential services, such as serving school meals and supporting continuous learning. We began offering grab-and-go breakfast and lunch service at five school sites today. We will be sending families a short survey this evening to determine those who need meals for their children but lack transportation to get to one of our drive-thru meal sites.

The district will gather administrators this week to discuss these latest developments. Building administrators will meet with school staff next week. We anticipate implementing a plan for continuous learning for students beginning March 30. Additional information will be shared with staff and families as soon as decisions are made.

“These unprecedented circumstances call for all of us to work together as a community to develop solutions for our children,” said Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis. “We understand that school closures shift the responsibility for educating children to families. Our professional staff stands ready to support all students and families.”

Per the Governor’s order, this closure is intended to support social distancing and restrict personal contact. Individuals are encouraged to avoid gatherings larger than ten people. The superintendent urges staff and families to heed this order.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced this afternoon that Douglas County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, a man in his 20s who recently traveled to Florida. Local health officials are working now to identify his close contacts and anyone who may have been exposed.

If you have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath and may have had contact with someone with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider for instructions. If you are sick or have a chronic health condition, it is essential that you stay home.

Visit for state COVID-19 resources or for national guidance.

Please use for informational updates from our schools.

Again, Lawrence Public Schools are closed through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year by order of the Governor of Kansas. We will continue to inform staff and families of updates as decisions are made and additional information becomes available.

Julie Boyle
Executive Director of Communications
Lawrence Public Schools USD 497

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