When asked about plans for the start of the 2020-21 school year, Scott County Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub chuckled and said, “way too soon.”
Less than a week later, the start of the next school year was exactly on lnterim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown’s mind during a Kentucky Department of Education webcast Monday. During that webcast Brown and Gov. Andy Beshear asked the state’s 172 school district superintendents to be flexible and prepared for a variety of scenarios that may be necessary for the start of the next school year due to COVID-19.
Among Brown’s suggestions:
—An early start, perhaps as early as late July to allow in-person instruction if the number of COVID-19 cases decline to allow it, which would also allow for a suspension mid-year if the number of COVID-19 cases increase;
—A traditional start
—A late start, perhaps after Labor Day.
Even so, Hub’s viewpoint changed little following the webcast.
“We have already seen Gov. Beshear use scientific data for ‘Healthy-at-Home,’ and I’m sure he will rely upon scientific data for ‘Healthy-at-School,’ but unless the definition of social distancing changes, I don’t see how we can have school in the fall,” Hub said. “I’ve heard suggestions that schools have half the students one day and the other half the next day. If we have 24 students in a classroom, there isn’t enough room to keep them six feet apart. Our buses are filled to capacity. What about discipline issues? What about the students we have to physically help into a wheelchair or to use the bathroom?
“I realize there are only a handful of answers, but it is still early. We don’t know what this will look like in 90 days. This is Teacher Appreciation Week and I am certain our teachers will do all they can to make whatever is necessary work. But we’re not through with this school year yet.”
Scott County still has about a week of school remaining with teachers using Non-Traditional Instruction since mid-March when in-person instruction was halted due to the pandemic. Last week, the school board voted to hold virtual graduations ceremonies for graduating seniors because of state restrictions on gatherings of 10 or more people with a parade to celebrate the students prior to the virtual event. School principals insisted consideration for in-person graduation ceremonies be held in July if restrictions ease up.
The schedule for virtual graduations at Scott County Schools have been set.
—Phoenix Horizon Community will be Thursday, June 11, at 8 p.m.
—Great Crossing High School will be Friday, June 12, at 8 p.m.
—Scott County High School will be Saturday, June 13, at 8 p.m.
Information and details about celebration parades for each school will be announced soon.
Brown urged the superintendents to be prepared for a variety of situations for the next school year due to the coronavirus.
“The good news is we have some time to plan; the bad news is we don’t know exactly what we are planning for,” Brown said. “We need every district to be nimble and to be able to adjust to what is a changing public health landscape in the fall.”
Brown suggested school boards approve multiple calendars so school districts can be prepared to change quickly as circumstances change at or near the start of he school year.
“We don’t know that any of this will occur, but we need in a time of a global pandemic to be prepared,” he said.
Social distancing inside school buildings and buses will have to be considered and factored into the health and safety of students for the fall, Brown said. Even though the KDE will offer guidance, the final decision will rest with local school boards, he said.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.