Kentucky schools given three options to reopen, superintendents say one just won't work

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 6:09 PM EDT
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Kentucky superintendents were given three options for starting the 2020-2021 school year.

Option number one is an early start. Superintendents were told to prepare to bring students back, if safe, in July, allowing for an extended break should COVID19 cases increase.

Option number two is to start on-time. Districts would change little to their calendars and plan to start when anticipated before the coronavirus pandemic started.

Option number three is to start after Labor Day. This third and final option would give state and local education officials to have more plans and procedures in place to limit the spread, or give it more time to get under control.

For superintendents from Corbin and Johnson County, one option is not feasible.

“There would be challenges for any of the three, but if we have to start early we’re gonna be new this year in the one to one initiative so it would put a little bit of a strain on our tech folks getting all that information together, and getting all those in the machines together and getting them ready and that would be a little bit of a challenge. They’re really are no challenges at all for the other two, we’ve got plenty of time to prepare,” said Superintendent David Cox of Corbin Independent Schools.

For Thom Cochran of Johnson County Schools, they have construction going on and other safety enhancements at multiple schools that starting early would impact, or make difficult.

"We want to make sure that our kids are safe, and our staff is safe, that's our number one priority," said Cochran.

Safety is the top priority for all involved. For Cochran and his 3,400 students in the district, they are hoping for more information on how they need to handle certain procedures.

"A lot of worry with the guidance that's going to come out next week with PPE and for me personally the facemasks are of big concern," said Cochran.

For the sixth-largest Independent School District in Kentucky, making some of these plans is difficult without knowing more information.

"What we're being asked to do through no fault of anybody's but what we're being asked to do is prepare for multiple scenarios and try to accommodate students and staff in the safest and most efficient ways we can without knowing all the gambrels at this point," said Cox.

For both Superintendents, they want to get students back in classrooms, for safety and parents.

"There's all kinds of bumps and barriers we have to face. One being we want our students in our building because we know when they're there what they're doing we know the education they're receiving. Our parents are a concern because we have a lot of them waiting to find out what schedule we're going to run," said Cochran.

While they have both made the best of what they have been handed, they are just working to get kids to the best possible learning environment.

"No matter how well we do in this virtual setting nothing replaces a teacher in a classroom, you can't replace that and I'll go to my grave believing that," said Cox.