By Greg Bird
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact daily life, Governor Andy Beshear announced Monday that the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year in Kentucky will be completed using distance learning and Non Traditional Instruction practices.
Kentucky joins a long list of states that have made the move to protect students and staff amid the health crisis.
McCreary County Schools Superintendent Corey Keith issued a press release Monday, following a conference call with the Governor and superintendents across the state announcing the local school district’s plan for the remainder of the school year.
In the wake of schools being closed in mid-March, McCreary County and most other Kentucky school districts have been relying on Non Traditional Instruction take-home packets, or on-line learning to continue education efforts. Those packets may now allow the local district to finish the school year earlier than originally scheduled.
“By law, district must have at least 1,062 instructional hours,” Keith’s announcement read. “(Education) Commissioner (Kevin) Brown announced that school districts are going to be allowed to count the NTI days as 7 hours of instructional time. This is more instructional time than our ‘regular’ student attendance says. Since we are ‘banking’ more minutes than normal due to the 7-hour days, the number of instructional days can be reduced. Our initial calculations show that our last day of school would be May 11. When we confirm that, we will let you know.”
At the start of the school year the initial closing date was scheduled for May 14.
Last month the Kentucky Department of Education received a waiver from the federal government allowing the state to cancel all K-PREP testing for the school year. The tests are administered typically in the last two weeks of school and are used as part of the accountability system designed to rate schools and districts based on their overall performance.
With the cancellation of testing, all state schools ratings will remain the same as last year’s and schools will be re-evaluated next year.
Keith said the anticipated final week of school, May 4-11, may consist of more creative NTI assignments.
“We understand there is some ‘NTI fatigue’ out there,” Keith said. We want to make those last few days meaningful while recognizing the need for some variety and choice. The last thing we want to do is add stress to our students and families during this trying time.”
Senior council formed to discuss graduation
By Greg Bird
Already beset with the disappointment of the cancellation of all spring sports and prom due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Governor’s announcement also prohibits districts to conduct in-person activities, including graduation. That now puts attention on how it will affect those students who were set to don their caps and gowns this spring and cross the stage for graduation ceremonies.
MCHS Principal Sharon Privett stated this week she had formed a council consisting of herself and representatives of the Senior Class officers and spring sport teams.
The council will meet and discuss ways to honor the Class of 2020, even with the social distancing orders in place.
Privett said the intention is to come up with safe and enjoyable ideas to hold some sort of commencement activity for the senior and their families – possibly some sort of virtual graduation.
“We want to do everything we can for this wonderful class,” Privett said.
Other groups and individuals have sprung into action as well to give the seniors something memorable other than the virus that disrupted their lives.
School Board Attorney John Blevins, along with his local law office, has arranged for every senior to get a free cheeseburger meal and milkshake over the next few weeks at the Dairy Bar in Whitley City. To take advantage of this the senior must bring an ID card with them to the Dairy bar. The offer will expire on May 14, 2020.
“Baird, Blevins, & Lowe Law Offices, PLLC is saddened by what our seniors are missing out on and we are offering this in the hopes that maybe this will bring a little bit of joy to them in honor of their accomplishments,” Blevins said.
A Facebook group – “Class of 2020 – ‘Adopt a Raider’ McCreary Central High School” has been formed to allow citizens the opportunity to “adopt” a graduating student and give them a graduation gift.
“The Class 2020 are in a unprecedented situation – they’ve had their year cut short through no fault of their own,” the group page states. “Let’s show them some love by mailing them a gift card or making them a goodie basket and putting it on their porch.”
As of press time Wednesday, the majority of the 200-plus students have been adopted, some multiple times over. A listing of students still waiting to be adopted is on the group’s page.