The Lutheran High School of Kansas City

An in-depth look at a Lutheran school operating during COVID-19

Like so many schools across the country, The Lutheran High School of Kansas City has had to navigate how best to operate under the one of the strangest set of circumstances: COVID-19. After spring break in March of 2020, LHSKC switched to online only classes, 8a.m.-3p.m., five days a week. After much summer planning and preparation, though, LHSKC decided to start in-person classes on August 17, 2020. Dr. Cary Stelmachowicz, principal of LHSKC, states they planned for precautions, such as installing hand washing stations, temperature checks upon entering the building, with students, faculty, and all in the building required to wear a mask. A great advantage that LHSKC has is the size of their facility. “We have a huge facility,” explains Stelmachowicz, “so we easily can keep it to 12-13 a classroom. And that’s what we’ve done, just spread it out.”

To date, there has been no schoolwide closures and no one has been infected from a school lead function. Stelmachowicz states that parents are very conscious about keeping kids home if there has been a risk of exposure, and also cites that involving students in the implementation of safety measures helps to ensure successful procedures. (For example, at LHSKC student leadership helps with the daily temperature checks.) The school also has built off of virtual learning from the spring, as teachers can now use Zoom or direct live-feed their lessons to keep students connected and engaged should they have to be home for quarantining. LHSKC also finds a balance to keep extracurricular activities going. They’ve been able to have choir, band, performances, dance, sports, and more. They are careful to wear masks and keep distancing measures in place (even something as simple as taking two buses instead of one for travel so that students can have more space between them.)

And while LHSKC has seen the overwhelming success of hosting in-person classes and activities, Dr. Stelmachowicz notes that the changes in technology have helped in some ways too. Since The Lutheran High School of Kansas City is the only Lutheran high school for many miles, often families and school leadership have to travel great distances. Zoom meetings have been very helpful in increasing productivity. “Why drive 45 minutes when we can get it done face to face [over Zoom]. I have more parent meetings now then ever!” Dr. Stelmachowicz notes that the attendance is very good, there is better interaction, and more feedback. “So that’s been a real positive and I’ve grown as an administrator...this is much better communication,” says Stelmachowicz. Another example is the May 2020 graduation which was held in-person, but also streamed virtually so that in-person attendance could be smaller. “What we learned was that we should always be streaming our graduations,” acknowledges Stelmachowicz, “because there are folks that can’t come: grandparents, people that are disabled… some said ‘that’s the first time I’ve been able to see one of my grandchildren graduate!’”

Finding a blend of technology and safety measures has allowed The Lutheran High School of Kansas City to provide a strong, Lutheran education. Stelmachowicz notes, “If you know anybody in the Kansas City area looking for a quality Christian education, that is dependable, reliable, does what it says it’s gonna do, and promotes the Gospel–we’re here.”