Lawrence, KS – The President and CEO of Communities In Schools (CIS) of Mid-America, an affiliate of the national organization that empowers all students to stay in school and on a path to graduation, released the following statement about the growing number of school closures triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and the impact on the nation’s most vulnerable students:
“CIS of Mid-America has implemented important updates to address and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to support students and families. We are using a community health perspective to determine our approach,” said CIS of Mid-America’s President and CEO, Malissa Martin. “We are an organization whose mission literally brings community members and professional staff into our schools to form meaningful relationships. So you can imagine the challenges of balancing our mission to serve children, teens, and families with the need to support not only their health and well-being, but also the health and well-being of our staff members, school partners, and community volunteers.
As of Tuesday, March 17, most of the schools in the CIS of Mid-America network are closed, while a few remain open. Kansas school buildings are now closed for the remainder of the academic year. Where closed, our school-based staff are working remotely. Our leadership staff are finalizing remote-work plans for school-based staff, so that they can still be engaged in meaningful and necessary work while schools are closed. Their work will include consistent connection with CIS families via technology and working with partners to address critical resources such as food and other basic needs.
Additionally, all of our non-site staff transitioned to remote-work status by end of day on March 17. A small crew of staff will stagger restricted hours at our main office to manage necessary functions that cannot be conducted remotely. Our operations will still function at full capacity. We will further support any staff who become ill with any of the major COVID-19 symptoms by not charging missed time against their PTO or Reserve. Additionally, to protect the health of all, both internal and external meetings will either be conducted virtually or postponed.”
Martin added, “I know these are challenging and often confusing times, with information and circumstances changing rapidly. I know that we are very dependent on our public health officials to guide us through territory we’ve not traveled before. However, I also know who we are and that we are able to rise to this challenge.
One of our core values is Whatever It Takes. With that in mind, CIS of Mid-America plans to continue services to students while learning is not taking place inside school buildings. Our model, structure and experience coordinating supports in helping families and schools positions us a valuable potential partner that could be part of a broader response moving forward. CIS stands at the ready to do everything we reasonably can to support students, families, and community members while respecting the safety of our staff and public health virus containment recommendations. We are open to this role potentially looking different than our typical CIS program. Some examples could be:
- Assisting in efforts to help students of all ages and their families.
- Collaborating on services and being part of efforts to help in ways that are not typically part of our CIS program.
- More supports are listed in the handout below.
Please feel free to reach out to us, and I promise we will all stay connected during this time. Our connections are more vital than ever amidst social disruption.”
As CIS of Mid-America shifts its supports to accommodate school closures, while ensuring that the nation’s most vulnerable students are still receiving the supports they need, your help is needed. Please consider giving to CIS of Mid-America during this critical time by visiting www.cismidamerica.org/donate.
About Communities In Schools of Mid-America
CIS of Mid-America celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2020. It was established as CIS of Kansas in 1995 and, in 2014, became the first CIS state office to establish regional affiliates embedded in our 501(c)3. What began as a statewide network in 1995 serving communities across the state of Kansas now also serves communities in Iowa, Oklahoma, and Missouri. As an affiliate of the national non-profit Communities In Schools, this regional approach allows us to streamline the services we provide to struggling students and their families. The CIS of Mid-America network currently provides services in 57 schools to more than 30,000 students each year by placing individuals directly inside the schools to work with students.