WINCHESTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Clark County Board of Education voted 3-2 Monday night to begin the school year with online classes due to the current coronavirus trends.
Superintendent Paul Christy and the Clark County Health Department Director Rebecca Kissick recommended the first nine weeks of school be non-traditional instruction (NTI) and distance learning, which is a component of NTI.
The board approved the recommendation, including revisiting the situation after 30 days beginning in September to reassess what the virus is doing in the community.
If conditions allowed, the board could change to a “hybrid” combination of NTI and in-person instruction or in-person only.
Superintendent Christy also told the board the district is working with a new vendor, which is the same vendor Fayette County Public Schools is using, to make sure each student will have a laptop to begin the school year.
For students who don’t have access to the Internet at home, the school district reached out to businesses, organizations and churches in the county, asking them to allow students to use their access points, either in parking lots or inside the building to download course work online.
It was announced at Monday night’s meeting the district’s request has been well-received by businesses, organizations and churches.
Classes are scheduled to begin the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, September 8, 2020.
Some board members questioned whether the decision would allow the district to move the school start date back to August for the district’s 5,400 students.
But Christy said teachers, parents and students need “clear” direction about when school will start and under what conditions. He said it will allow teachers to be fully prepared using a new online teaching platform that allows far more options that the tools the district had at its disposal last year.
If the coronavirus numbers improve in both the county and region show solid improvement in September, Christy said the district could consider hybrid options, like bringing back groups of students.Furthermore, Christy said the NTI decision still allows parent to bring their students to school for individual instruction with teachers if it was needed.
More importantly, the new teaching software allows for group, small group and individual instruction.
“Let’s do it this way and do it well, let everyone get comfortable with it,” Christy advised.
The NTI decision replaced a decision that could ave had the district offering parents the option or in-person classes or virtual teaching. Some 63 percent of parents had said in a survey they preferred in-person and 37 percent said they preferred virtual, leaving the district moving toward a dual system.
“We owe it to teachers, students and parents to give them some kind of direction,” Christy stated.
When asked if he would still block in-person classes, even if the board rejected NTI, Christy said he would. Superintendents have the right to delay or block opening school if they feel safety is an issue.
“I’m very uncomfortable coming back right now,” Christy said.