Schools urged to plan three options for starting new school year

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – July. September. Online. In-person. Some combination of all the above.

If the state’s 172 school district’s have learned any tools and tricks about teaching during the two-month coronavirus shutdown, they may need them all and then some when it comes to planning for the new school year that normally would start in August.

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During a meeting Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear asked the Kentucky Department of Education for flexibility in preparing for a new school year, even as districts are grappling with ways to carry out graduations for the class of 2020 in the next three weeks.

In his comments, Beshear asked Kentucky schools to prepare for multiple possibilities for beginning the next school year, ranging from late July to after Labor Day in September.

In some cases, that could mean schools might start in July and at the same time, hold in-person graduations, depending on the conditions with the coronavirus.

In a news release, Interim Kentucky Education Commissioner Kevin Brown said Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who also is an educator, want districts to consider three possibilities — an early start, perhaps as early as late July; a traditional start in early to mid-August; and a late start, perhaps after Labor Day.

Brown said an early start could let districts begin the year with in-person instruction if a decline in the number of cases of COVID-19 allows it, with the possibility of a suspension of in-person classes if there is a spike in cases.

“Brown told the superintendents they might consider asking their local boards of education to approve multiple calendars to allow for the different scenarios,” a news release said, “and districts should be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances near or after the beginning of the 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,” Brown said.

Brown also said the resumption of in-person classes might come with changes that could include the use of social distancing both in school buildings and on buses.

Decisions will ultimately be made by local school districts, Brown said.