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Boone Superintendent: "This Has Been the Hardest Four Months of My Professional Life"

Boone County Schools Superintendent Matthew Turner spoke to the Florence city council on Tuesday night to discuss plans to reopen school this fall.

Governor Andy Beshear recommended that school districts not start in-person learning until at least September 28 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, arguing instead that they should turn to non-traditional, or virtual instruction, called NTI.

Some local school districts have already announced that they will heed Beshear's recommendations while others like the Diocese of Covington and Williamstown Independent are proceeding to reopen to in-person learning.

Superintendents from around the state met with Beshear in a virtual conference call on Tuesday to discuss the matter.

Boone County is still working out its plan.

In the meantime, Turner explained to council what had been the district's plan prior to Beshear's recommendation, one that utilizes color-coded levels of green, yellow, and red.

The green level is the in person level, where students attend classes in person at school. Precautions would be taken, but students would be back at school on a normal schedule. 

The statement in the green level says 'when Covid-19 safety alerts have subsided', and 'when safety guidelines are reduced or eliminated'.  

Yellow represents a hybrid system of in-person and at-home learning.

Red is entirely virtual.

Councilman Gary Winn asked Turner how the parents rated the options on the surveys sent to families in the district.

Turner said that about 70 percent of respondents 

Turner said that the general consensus was about 70 percent who wanted in-person schooling, and 30 percent who wanted virtual. 

Councilman David  Osborne asked if there would be any extracurricular activities, or any sports this fall, and Turner said there is nothing official, but he thought that it would be difficult to have athletics.

Mayor Diane Whalen said that parents are facing more difficulties, problems with their jobs and child care. She expressed concerns about school buses.

"No one envies you your job," she said to Turner.

Turner acknowledged that not having in-person learning would be problematic for many families, but the possibility of a child becoming infected with the coronavirus and then transmitting it to their family members would be a real possibility.

"We don't have any easy solutions," he said. "We know we want our kids back in school, but we have to do it safely. This has been the hardest four months of my professional life."

Turner also said that he will make sure that students' needs are met, but that he is worried that some could fall behind without in-person learning.

"God bless you," said Whalen. "It is not easy. But we know you are doing the best you can for our children."

In other business, Florence welcomed two new members to its fire and EMS department: Michael Stanton arrives from Ft. Mitchell, and Candice Blitz from Georgetown.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

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