By Kaitlyn Wilson
July 27, 2020 the McCreary County School Board met in regular session, with the majority of the discussion revolving around the reopening plan for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Corey Keith said that “As educators, we want our students back in the building. That’s why we went into the school business, and there’s something special and magical about a teacher with students. There’s been a lot of planning going on.” At the last special meeting, the School Board decided to give parents the choice between sending their children to school for four days a week or keeping them home to do online, distanced learning. This decision was made before our county saw an unfortunate rise in the number of positive, active cases of COVID-19.
Earlier in the day, Governor Andy Beshear announced a new set of guidelines and recommendations for the state of Kentucky, including a recommendation that schools postpone in-person classes until after the third week of August. While this wouldn’t have initially affected our school system, it has lead to a great deal of uncertainty regarding the pandemic. Thus, Superintendent Keith recommended during the board meeting that the McCreary County School District postpone in-person learning until after fall break, with students completing distance learning online. By taking this action early, Keith said they hoped to give families enough time to plan because of the uncertainty, because we don’t know what’s coming. With this action, the first 26 school days will be done through distance learning.
The distance learning will look much different from the NTI packets used at the end of last school year. All students K-12 will be receiving a Chromebook in order to complete their work. Students will be taught through a variety of videos from teachers, Google classroom, various materials, and feedback and interaction directly from teachers. The School Board’s technology department is also working on strengthening the WiFi hotspots surrounding the schools and placing various hotspots throughout the community.
The members of the Board seemed to be in agreement with Superintendent Keith’s recommendation, with Lori Foster commenting that she “felt strongly the last time we met that August 27 in-person was just a little too soon.” Foster went on to say that it “absolutely breaks my heart to think about distance learning all the way through fall break, but I think that’s the times that we’re in right now and from a safety standpoint I think that’s the safest thing we can do for our kids.” She also brought up her concerns regarding children with IEP’s and special education who need the social interaction. For this, Foster said she would like to see about forming some sort of co-op with the library or in the schools with high school students doing socially distanced one on one tutoring. Superintendent Keith said that they would have to check with the health department in order to ensure that they are doing things correctly. The School Board is going to hold a special meeting before school starts to discuss the code of conduct, and that is when they plan to revisit Foster’s idea.
The Board voted unanimously to accept Keith’s recommendation, so students will attend school through online distance learning until after fall break. The next McCreary County School Board meeting is going to be held on August 24, 2020.