Masks in schools allowed but not required; no virtual option
By Eugenia Jones
During regular session on Monday, the McCreary County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the District’s “Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan” for the 2021-2022 school year. However, McCreary County School Superintendent Corey Keith and Board Members cautioned students, parents, and staff to be prepared for possible changes in the plan prior to students’ return to classes on Thursday August 19. Since the plan is based on current guidelines, school administrators may be required to make adjustments to the plan to meet any additional guidelines forthcoming from government officials and/or Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The plan currently does not require the wearing of masks by students and staff; however, it does recommend masks be worn indoors by unvaccinated persons. All students and staff members may wear masks if they so desire. Masks are required on school buses per guidance from KDE, KY Public Health, and CDC. Medical exemptions will be considered when supported by a doctor’s note. In those cases, an alternative form of PPE (personal protective equipment) will be considered. Adjustments may be made to masking requirements if levels of COVID-19 transmission change in the community/school.
Physical distancing and contact tracing precautions continue. Classroom seating will be arranged to have students three feet apart when possible. Maximum distance with students facing the same direction as much as possible will be attempted in areas such as cafeterias. Seating charts will be developed and followed with school buses loading from back to front and unloading front to back. Students and staff should stay home if they have symptoms such as fever, aches, sore throat, vomiting, etc. Students who exhibit one or more symptoms at school will be quarantined in an isolation room until picked by a parent/guardian. Unvaccinated staff members who exhibit one or more symptoms will be sent home immediately. Sick persons are encouraged to go to a health care provider to be tested for COVID-19. They may return to school with a negative test or when their symptoms resolve.
Additional preventative measures including availability of hand sanitizer, signage, etc. and are documented in the plan. Expectations for athletics will be consistent with guidance from public health officials, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. McCreary County Schools will participate in the self-reporting program or work with the public health department as necessary. Parents are required to notify the school within 24 hours if their child is diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or has been directed to quarantine.
The McCreary County plan requires students to attend in-person classes five days per week (Monday-Friday). There is no virtual option. If community/school transmission rates reach concerning levels or if there are mandates from the state to cease in-person classes, there may be a transition to part-time/full-time virtual instruction. To ensure continuity of services in the event there is a transition to virtual instruction, each student will be issued a Chromebook so students will have the tools necessary to participate.
According to McCreary County School Superintendent Corey Keith, the Safe Return plan was crafted with the goal of returning students to the least restrictive learning environment possible while keeping students, staff, and the community safe.
To read the full McCreary County Safe Return to School Plan, go to https://www.mccreary.k12.ky.us/docs/district/return%20to%20in-person%20instruction%20plan%202021-2022%20-%20board%20approved%20july%2026,%202021.pdf?id=5158
Photos by Voice Staff
During this month’s School Board meeting, the McCreary County School Superintendent had some good news for McCreary County students and parents when he announced that the school district plans to purchase school supplies for McCreary County students this year. There was more good news when Dr. Jason Creekmore announced the recipients of this year’s Rewards program. The student recipients are: McCreary Central High School-Cameron Stephens, Carson McKinney, Ally Kennedy, Alyssa Tucker; McCreary County Middle School-Angel Daugherty, Palace Stephens, Jasmine Daugherty; Pine Knot Elementary-Mike Reed, Hayden Bryant, Elijah Bell, Belia Cooper, Cali Crawford, Kallie Sharp; Whitley City Elementary-Kassidy Garland, Maddie Vanover, Talexx Caudill, Blaze DeLaugherter, Easton Shoopman, and Kamden Murphy. The students are pictured with School Board Members Johnny Barnett, Stacey Hammons, Sherry Duncan, Lori Foster, and Braxton King. McCreary County student, Hailey Fee, was awarded the $1,000 Monster Storage Great Character Award. In presenting Hailey’s award, her soccer coach, Kaitlyne King, noted Hailey was recognized for her outstanding character by the coach of an opposing team. Hailey became a dedicated and dependable helper to her soccer team after she was sidelined by an injury.School Superintendent Corey Keith recognized Carolyn Bryant (high school), Julie Gay (elementary), and Joy Waters (middle school) for the Cambellsville Excellence in Teaching Award.