Schools Asked to Be Closed Longer
Governor Andy Beshear announced Friday that he requested all 172 Kentucky school districts, 53 area technology centers, Kentucky School for the Blind and Kentucky School for the Deaf to extend their closure through April 20. All of the schools closed this week in response to a recommendation made by Beshear on March 12 that school facilities close for at least two weeks.
The actions are in response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic. There are now 63 confirmed cases of the respiratory virus in Kentucky, including one from Kenton County.
There are more than 15,000 confirmed cases nationwide and more than two hundred have died. Across the world, more than 10,000 have died.
The government at all levels are calling for social distancing, canceling school and events, as well as many businesses, while limited restaurants to carryout or delivery only.
“What we’re seeing nationally and what we’re seeing in Kentucky is escalating cases. It is more important now than ever that we engage in social distancing. And while kids seem to be resilient to the virus, they can certainly get it and they can spread it,” Beshear said during a conference call with school leaders.
In Northern Kentucky, school districts are announcing their plans. Readers should check with their individual school distirct.
Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown echoed the importance of extending the closure period, which affects approximately 650,000 public school students who attend classes in 1,466 schools.
“This is in the best interest of our students and their families, the teachers and staff members who serve and everyone in the Commonwealth,” Brown said. “The governor and his administration are continuing to do all he can to slow the spread of this virus in our communities, and one of the most important elements at this time is social distancing, which simply isn’t realistic when schools are open.”
All school districts are utilizing the Kentucky Department of Education’s Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Program to ensure that educational services continue during the closure period.
Brown said he has advised superintendents to ask their schools to prepare enough non-traditional instructional materials for a six-week period that would extend from the beginning of the closure period to May 1, including a one-week spring break.
Beshear noted that while preparing additional NTI materials may require teachers to return to school buildings, they should continue to practice effective social distancing by avoiding gatherings or by staggering the times when they are in their buildings.
“Let’s make sure … that we are not unnecessarily creating a crowd in our schools,” he said.
Brown also encouraged the state’s superintendents to continue to be leaders in modeling social distancing in their schools and communities.
“They have responded in a great way,” he said.
In addition, Brown said he will apply to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) as soon as tonight for a waiver that would allow Kentucky schools to bypass federally mandated testing for the 2019-2020 school year.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that USED will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency.
Beshear told superintendents his administration would take any measures possible to support schools and districts during the closure period.
“I can tell you I will do everything in my power and under my emergency powers to try to make our school systems as whole as we can throughout this,” he said.