Clark County Public Schools to begin year online

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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.

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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.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.