Education officials sort through reopening issues

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Issues faced by Kentucky’s public schools due to the coronavirus pandemic were discussed during the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Education Committee on Tuesday.


Oldham County Schools Superintendent Greg Schultz said the schools need flexibility for reopening when trying to balance public health concerns with what can be done realistically.


Bus transportation is one such issue, he said.  “We’re asked to have one student per seat and every other seat.  There’s just no way that most school districts can get their students to school in a timely fashion, or a cost-efficient fashion.”


Others included, “Social distancing at the high school level, sheer classroom size and the inability to keep high school students in the same room with teachers,” he said.  “Trying to have a second grader wearing a mask all day is going to be exceptionally challenging.


“We also need to understand that public schools, which are a great part of our children’s lives, are going to have a hard time meeting these with any type of success.”


Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Brown agreed with Schultz.  “There are a lot of unanswered questions on almost every issue he brought up,” he said.  “We are working with public health officials on those efforts.”


Brown says those officials, including Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, took part in a teleconference with the superintendents last week and took their concerns about implementing their guidance.  He says revised guidance from public health officials is expected to be issued to the schools shortly.


The Kentucky Department of Education is working on its own reopening concerns as well.  They include:


--How to ensure the health and safety of everybody in their buildings.


--How to maintain quality teaching and learning.


--How to support exceptional learners, including gifted and talented students and students in need of special education services.


--How to continue school and district operations.


Brown admitted they are asking school districts to do things they’ve never done before for the upcoming school year.


“We’re asking them to buy PPE, thermometers, etc., yet we also know the state has a huge revenue shortfall looming,” he said. “We don’t readily have an answer to that.  There’s talk of additional federal funds coming in, but it is going to be a tough school year next year because of all of these things.”

        

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