Officials at Whitley County and Williamsburg Independent School districts have announced plans concerning their respective school years with classes beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 26, for both school districts.
In addition, parents in both school districts will have the option of having their children attend classes in-person or to do virtual learning from home.
If parents opt for in-person instruction, it will take place five days a week on a normal school schedule, barring unforeseen events that is.
Students doing in-person instruction at schools that are in first grade and above will be required to wear a mask when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines of six-foot social distancing isn’t possible. Also, masks must be worn while on the school bus.
Face shields are an option for students with health issues, the school district noted in a release.
These are the high points of the 2020-2021 COVID Delay Calendar that the Whitley County Board of Education approved during its regular monthly meeting Thursday.
Superintendent John Siler noted that it was only a few weeks ago that the Kentucky Department of Education gave the go ahead for in-person learning to take place at the start of the next school year.
“Now we can really start to bring in our teachers to train them,” Siler added.
The closing day for students under the plan is slated for May 5.
Suffice it to say that the school district understandably doesn’t have all the details for COVID-19 learning worked out yet for this fall.
More information on a full re-entry plan will be provided in the coming weeks.
“Whitley County School District will follow CDC guidelines, KDE guidelines, Kentucky Department of Public Health and will be in close communication with our local health department to ensure the safety of all students and staff during the re-opening,” Siler noted in a release.
Although the plan isn’t finalized yet, Siler said that there will be times during the school year, such as the end of grading periods, where students can be moved from in-person learning to remote learning, and from remote learning to in-person learning.
“It is almost going to be a case by case basis, if there is a health issue or something like that. We are still going to get all those details worked out in the coming days. This is a pretty good starting point,” Siler added.
Williamsburg will also be offering students the option of attending classes in-person or virtually.
Students attending school will be required to wear masks with the exception of kindergarten, preschool, or those that are medically exempt. In addition, students will have their temperature checked each day before entering the building.
Classes will be held five days per week.
In classrooms, students will be required to maintain social distancing with desks being placed six feet apart.
“Where students are six feet apart, they will be able to remove their masks,” Melton stated.
In a further effort to maintain social distancing, students will eat breakfast and lunch in the classroom.
“Students who are learning in-seat will have the opportunity to opt out of in-seat instruction at any time the family feels there is a health risk in our community,” Melton stated.
Melton said families that elect to have their student(s) attend classes, virtually, will need to have reliable internet access. However, the school will provide those students with a district Chromebook to use.
“Students will be responsible for communicating with their teachers and submitting assignments in a timely manner,” Melton said.
Melton noted that students who are attending classes virtually will not be able to opt into in-seat instruction until the beginning of a new six-week term.
Those dates are: October 6, November 18, January 19, March 1, and April 15.
“Families will need to communicate with the school prior to the student returning to in-seat instruction,” Melton said.
Families that plan on using the virtual option when school begins must stop by the school between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday to fill out a digital contract. The deadline is July 31.
“It is important in our planning process to know which students will be learning digitally this year,” Melton said.
Melton acknowledged that it remains a possibility that schools may be closed to in-person classes because of another spike in COVID–19 cases.
“If necessary, we will issue a district Chromebook to every student kindergarten through 12th grade,” Melton said.
Melton said additional information will be sent out in the coming weeks.