Scott County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub answered about 200 questions over more than a two-hour period at the beginning of the school board’s monthly meeting.
The school system set up a Zoom virtual meeting and some 300 interested persons signed on. The News-Graphic live-streamed the question-and-answer section, as well, and at one point almost 700 people were watching.
Those watching could submit questions which were reviewed by others and directed to Hub. On Monday, Hub followed a similar format with the Georgetown/Scott County Chamber of Commerce.
The mission was to get as much information to as many people as possible, said Community Education Director Renee Holmes. The Q&A is still available on the News-Graphic’s Facebook page and its YouTube page.
Surveys will be delivered to teachers this week, just days after a second survey was sent to parents. Data from these surveys will help the school system to develop class lists and master schedules, Hub said.
Principals of Scott County’s schools met with Hub and other administrators last week in preparation for a school year unlike any other.
As the start of the school year nears, Hub said he has tried to keep things simple as the school system prepares for classes during a pandemic.
“I think some people are frustrated because we don’t have a 70-page manual,” he said. “We don’t have such a manual because it would be useless. Every day something changes.”
But things are getting clearer, he said. The Board of Education met Thursday and approved the school calendar, officially designating Aug. 26 as the first day of classes.
“Everybody has individual questions, but we are doing our best we can to answer as many big issues as possible,” Hub said. “But things change every day. With the principals we had one session where 17 questions were asked and the answer for each was the same: ‘if you can wear a mask or social distance you can do it.’
“I hate to be as simplistic, but that’s really how it is.”
Below are some topics covered by Hub.
“With virtual instruction we have had a whole paradigm shift,” Hub said comparing it to last year’s non-traditional instruction. “We will be using Google Classroom as the platform for virtual instruction. When a teacher teaches a lesson in-person they’ll use Google Classroom to upload videos, charts, etc.
“Families choosing virtual instruction will have the same platform and access to the same materials. They can go to any school parking lot and download Google Classroom.”
Teachers have had the opportunity to attend professional development classes to learn more about Google Classroom and the school calendar has built in opportunities for teachers to continue learning, he said.
“It’s like anything else, you have some teachers that are well versed in Google Classroom and others not so much,” Hub said. “But the teachers will have the opportunity to learn as we go forward.”
The school system has begun advertising for school nurses.
“Of course, it depends upon how many applicants we have, but our intent is to have a nurse at every school,” Hub said.
Federal funds will be available for the school system to make the nurse hires, Hub said. In the past, some schools have had a nurse while others shared a nurse
The school board has not approved hiring more nurses, but Hub said the funding will likely come from federal funds. School board members asked for information on the costs associated with putting nurses in all schools.
“We have always had difficulty finding enough substitutes,” Hub said.
Most people who substitute are older and more likely to be vulnerable to COVID-19, and many long-time substitute teachers have expressed a concern about teaching this year.
Even so, the school system is looking at various ways to incentivize people to substitute, Hub said. Substitutes with college degrees and are qualified will have the opportunity to sign an agreement to substitute for 10 days at the start of school, he said. Those substitutes will have their pay doubled to $180 per day, he said.
“That gets us to Labor Day, and then after Labor Day we will offer a 19-day agreement, which gets us to fall break,” Hub said. “We are working on ways to encourage people to be substitutes.”
Teachers and COVID-19
State officials have said there will be unlimited paid emergency days for any teacher who comes down with COVID-19 or may need to be quarantined because a student has the coronavirus. Most teachers have accumulated days they can use, if necessary, and there are unpaid leave options, he said.
“We’re not looking to fire anyone because they don’t feel comfortable coming to work,” Hub said.
Last week a survey was sent to all parents. In the survey parents are asked if their child will participate in-person classes or via virtual instruction. Once these surveys are completed, the school system will begin developing class lists and master schedules.
This will give the school system valuable data needed to make plans on how a typical school day will operate, Hub said.
This week, teachers will receive a survey. One of the questions asked, according to Hub, is whether a teacher would prefer giving virtual instruction or in-person class instruction.
Mike Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.