Except for ‘distance learners,’ students in Hardin County Schools to return to classrooms four days every week after fall break

Near-normal operations will resume for a majority of students enrolled in Hardin County Schools right after fall break.
Thursday night, the Hardin County Board of Education heard Director of Schools Michael Davis’ recommendations on how to reopen schools full-time.
“When we made the change to go to the hybrid schedule the first week of September, at that time I made the announcement that we would continue to look at when we could possibly make an evaluation on going back to school, and all the factors that involves,” Davis told the board.
“We are approaching fall break, coming up the first week of October, and we have been meeting over the last week to 10 days, looking at all the different options and variables that would allow us to see what we could possibly do.
“Because we know – and I think that everyone would agree – the best learning takes place when our students are in front of our teachers, in class. So tonight, my recommendation moving forward will be, starting the Tuesday after fall break, will be for all students, in groups 1 and 2, will return to school on Tuesday, Oct. 13, which is the Tuesday after fall break, and for the remainder of this semester, all students who have opted to go to school will attend Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.”
Davis said Mondays will remain reserved for students to perform school work at home, because teachers “must have that day to be able to do distance learning teaching, (prepare) paper packets, and (be available for distance students) to contact their teachers through phone and email.”
He added it is his hope to continue this schedule throughout the first semester, noting that a return to the hybrid schedule will remain on the table as the school system continues dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic.
The resumption of a closer to normal schedule will have no effect on students in the distance learning program.
Davis said it may be possible to return to a full five day per week schedule after the electronic devices the school system has ordered for all students arrive. The devices are expected to arrive in mid-to-late November, and once almost all students have access to school work electronically, not having to prepare so many weekly paper packets will dramatically lessen the current burden on teachers who must prepare them, he said.
Regarding COVID-19 and student safety, Davis said, “I can tell you tonight that we can not keep them 6 feet apart in all classrooms, in all locations, but we will continue to do our best to keep them safe at all times.”
He emphasized that he strongly encourages students, teachers and staff to wear masks at all times, and that free masks and face shields are available in all schools for every student and HCS employee.
New school board member Lonnie Miller asked Davis, “What happens when we do – not if, but when we do – have another COVID case in a school? What is going to be our reaction to it?”
Davis replied, “What it has been. Our COVID contact is Ms. Kristi Barlow, and we’re blessed to have a school nurse in every school, so obviously our first point of contact is our school nurses. They will immediately contact Ms. Barlow and she will go to that school, where the case has been reported, and we will follow the exact guidelines that we have been told to do and we will contact trace.”
Davis said students are in assigned seating in all classes, meant to both spread students out as much as possible and also make it easier to determine which students may have been near anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.
He added that the guideline for quarantining students or staff due to exposure has been changed from within 6 feet of a positive case for 10 minutes continuously to within 6 feet of a positive case for 15 minutes cumulatively. Davis also said that parents of all children in a classroom with a reported positive case will be notified, whether quarantined or not.
“We’re going to go by what the law says and what the guideline are, and we’re going to keep our kids safe,” Davis said.
Board member Jeanell Dennis said, “I’m very concerned about them all going back, and I think it would be much better – and I know people don’t like it – but I think they would be safer, if they stayed (on the hybrid) but went four days a week. That’s just my opinion, and I’m probably the only one that has it.”
Responding to board member Olga Turnbow’s question regarding the spacing between students, Davis said he doesn’t know of any school system that is able to enforce perfect spacing between all students at all times, but HCS is doing the best it can with space and teachers available.
“There are two things that make it difficult: first, you’re not going to have the capacity in the building to separate students down to eight or 10 or 12 kids per room; you’re not going have enough room. Second, you’re not going to have enough staff – professional, certified staff – to be able to teach the kids. If you’re assigning kids to a room, you have to have a professional staff member to teach the subject,” Davis said.
He noted HCS not only does not have enough regular teachers to do that, but, the school system has a severe shortage of available substitute teachers this year.
Davis also pointed out that, on the positive side regarding spacing of students, roughly one-third of the entire student body enrolled in the school system has opted for distance learning, which dramatically lowers the number of total students in school at any one time.
Barlow, the HCS COVID contact, also noted that to her knowledge, none of the over 200 students who had to be quarantined due to close contact with a COVID-19 positive case during the first three weeks of school ended up testing positive as a result of that contact.
Davis told the board that Mondays will remain the day to pick up meals for children to eat at home. Students who attend school will eat in school from Tuesday-Friday, so parents will be able to pick up meals for those students for Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
Distance learners, and for now all Hardin County children 18 and under, will still be able to pick up meals for every day of the week on Mondays.
Fall break is from Monday, Oct. 5 through Friday, Oct. 9, and the first nine-week grading period ends Friday, Oct. 2. Reports for all schools are scheduled to go out on Friday, Oct. 23.
The issuance of report cards was scheduled for one week earlier, but has been pushed back a week because distance learning students will still have assignments out and not yet graded on the original report card date.
Friday, Davis posted the following on the Hardin County Schools website:
•All students (Group 1 & Group 2 students) will report to school on Tuesday, Oct. 13. For the remainder of the 1st semester, all students will attend school on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
•For the remainder of the 1st semester, no students will attend school on a Monday but rather do their school work from home. Teachers will continue to do their distance learning work and work with students by computer and-or phone as needed.
• The 1st nine week grading period will end on Friday, Oct. 2.
•Report cards for the first nine weeks are scheduled to go out on Friday, Oct. 23.
• Fall break is scheduled for Oct. 5-9 and all Hardin County Schools will be closed this week. Because of this, there will be no meals distributed this week.
•Current distance learning students will still have the opportunity to make the change and attend school at the start of the second semester. More information on this will be coming out soon after fall break.
•Curbside Take Home Meals Update for after Fall Break:
-Traditional students (all students currently in either Group 1 or Group 2), will now be able to pick-up their take home breakfast and lunch meals on Mondays of each week between 10-11:30 a.m. (this will be three days of meals being picked up). Students will be able to eat meals at their school the other four days each week.
-All children 18 years old or younger, who are distance learning or not enrolled in Hardin County Schools, will still be able to receive breakfast and lunch meals at no cost for the entire seven days of each week with pick-up remaining each Monday between 10-11:30 a.m. at each school site.
-Meals should continue to be pre-ordered by completing the Meal Survey on the Hardin County Schools’ Facebook page or website at www.hardincoschools.com.

2 Comments

  1. Joe Public on September 25, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    How is it that when end up with a school board and a director of schools this stupid? We are going to start back regular school and we are simply not going to do anything different. We are not going to social distance and we are not going to mandate wearing mask. We are going to do absolutely nothing to mitigate the disease and there are in fact options to do just that. It’s truly unfortunate that we can no longer personally so the director of schools, the school board, and the School district. It’s not actually that hard to grow some balls and do the right thing by children Mr Michael Davis.

  2. Joe on September 29, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Public health has been clear. Wear Masks and social distance. The School is still not doing this. What are they doing instead? They don’t actually say. This really isn’t acceptable but its doesn’t seem anyone will ask the hard questions.

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