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Bellevue Schools Discuss Reopening, Return of Sports

Bellevue Independent Schools is still planning to open the district to students on August 19, though that could be pushed back to September 9, Superintendent Robb Smith said during a meeting this week of the Bellevue board of education.

The district will send surveys to families about reopening schools to gauge opinion on the plan and non-traditional instruction, as well as wearing masks.

Smith said that Bellevue is following instructions from the Kentucky Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are giving ourselves as much time as we can," Smith said. "We don't want anything that would put our students in danger, or leave them vulnerable. That's non-negotiable.mThe other thing that is non-negotiable is creating more work for our teachers. I appreciate the flexibility they have shown, but I really don't want to create more work for them."

A more concrete plan for reopening during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered schools in March could emerge in July.

Meanwhile, Bellevue is working on plans to begin its fall sports program.

Smith said that he has been meeting with other local superintendents, athletic directors, and principals about that.

"I am excited about the things that are going on," Smith said. "We are knee-deep in planning."

Following the state guidelines, coaches can now start to contact fall athletes and as of July 1, the fields will come alive again, according to Smith, as the players can report to practice with ten players to every coach.  

Players will also have to have their own water bottles, and temperatures may be recorded. 

No indoor sports can be started yet, and the weight room is still off limits.

Football attracts the most fans, and if rules don't allow for fans, that could present a financial problem, Smith said. 

The school board also approved its annual evaluation of Smith, scoring him as exemplary in seven state-mandated categories.

"I appreciate and love being part of this district," Smith said. "When I was looking for a position six years ago, I had one priority, to help kids. I just wanted to help kids. The five of you, collectively, have the same goal.  Now I intend to hone my craft, and get better, of course, but I will always know that we all have the same priority."

Board member Julia Fischer said that the seven exemplary scores show the board's confidence in Smith, and they are very happy with his tireless work.

Smith also addressed the recent intensified focus on racism in the country, and said that he will be conducting a search to recruit teachers. The student body in Bellevue is one-sixth students of color, he said, and the teaching staff should be similar.

"We know that they are plentiful and out there," Smith said. "We want to be a leader in this area." 

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Bellevue football players during a game last November (Brian Frey/RCN file)