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Students continuing NTI days for rest of school year


Kentucky schools will remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the school year.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear made the recommendation on a call to the superintendents on Monday.

Beshear said he understands it is difficult for parents and educators, but the decision had to be made.

“I know for many this is hard,” he said. “We have seniors that were looking forward to an in-person graduation and a prom. I’ve got a son who’s graduating from elementary school and we have every student out there who has lost this time to be able to be with their classmates and there for in-person instruction. It’s not fair, it’s not. But a worldwide pandemic has hit us and those of you who are missing out on these opportunities, we need your help and we need your sacrifice. Ultimately, the experience you are losing is hard, but your willingness to do it is going to help us save lives.”

Since in-person classes have been stopped, school districts will only be required to have 1,062 hours of instruction rather than the 170 days, according to local school officials.

Local superintendents said they had expected this announcement and have been preparing for it.

Mason County Superintendent Rick Ross said he is working to calculate when the district will reach 1,062 hours of instruction and will be communicating with families to determine when the district’s last NTI day will be.

Once he has a date, the amended calendar will be voted on by the board of education.

Ross said students will continue to receive meals from the district.

“At the conclusion of the school year, we would transition into summer feeding. We will continue with many satellite locations but cease home delivery service. Details on this will be provided at a later date,” he said.

Ross has also been adamant about having a graduation for seniors when it is safe to do so.

“Our plan is to have prom and graduation at a later date. I don’t think a virtual graduation would be as memorable. I’m still hoping for a positive resolution and eventual easing of restrictions,” he said.

According to Ross, with being unable to return to school there is a lack of closure for staff, students and parents.

“The 2019-2020 school year will lack closure for every student, staff member and parent. The last thing anyone expected was for March 13th to be the final day of “in person” school. I’m proud of Royal Nation’s positive response. We are doing our best,” he said.

Augusta Independent School Superintendent Lisa McCane said the last NTI day for AIS will be May 1 as the district will hit 1,065 hours then.

She also said the district will continue to provide meals to students throughout the school year and during the summer.

McCane said the district is committed to having a prom and graduation for students when possible.

“We will have a modified prom and graduation at the point it’s safe to do so. The timing will be dependent upon the phase and ability to safely coordinate the events,” she said.

According to McCane, there are several challenges to having in-person classes dismissed for the rest of the school year.

“The challenges are many ranging from how to provide students with special events, recognition programs, grading and reporting, scholarships, summer and extracurricular activities and feeding program, and fulfilling certified and classified contract days to name a few.”

Bracken County Schools Superintendent Jeff Aulick said he believes the last NTI day will be around May 12. The district will continue to provide meals to students until May 22 and the summer feeding program will begin the first week of June.

Aulick said he is working with the high school to find ways to show support for graduating seniors.

“We’re looking at options to provide as much honor to the seniors as we can,” he said.

According to Aulick, his concern lies with the students.

“We all want to see our students in person,” he said. “And, the staff finds it difficult — our concern is with making sure the students have a quality education. This is new to everyone.”

Robertson County Schools Superintendent Sanford Holbrook said the district’s last NTI day will be May 6 when students will end the school year with 1,096 instructional hours. Students will have until May 15 to turn all of their work in to teachers.

Holbrook said the district will continue providing meals to students throughout the school and into the summer.

“We’ll absolutely continue,” he said. “We deliver approximately 450 meals each day and over 125 weekend meal bags to families in need. Our students can’t afford for us to stop providing meals. Robertson County has provided summer meals for the last three years. We will most definitely continue that this summer, but we hope to be able to continue home delivery, which will look a little different than it has in the past. With social distancing guidelines, it’s just not feasible to have students meet us at our usual drop off locations.”

According to Holbrook, administration is looking into alternative prom and graduation options for students.

“We definitely want to make sure we honor them and do whatever possible for them by still following all of Governor Beshear’s guidelines and recommendations. We realize how much this has affected them and will make every effort to do something special for them, as time allows,” he said.

Holbrook said his biggest concern is for what next school year will look like for students and teachers.

“We are used to accommodating students and the normal summer slide that we see over the summer months, but we will have students who haven’t been in school for over five months — it’s going to be a challenge to accommodate them and still keep them on track for mastering all of their grade-level standards,” he said. “Luckily, we have a dedicated staff who’s gone above and beyond to ensure that students are getting the most from their NTI instruction, and I feel like that will continue throughout the summer.”

Some local parents and students also expressed their concerns over in-person classes not resuming this school year.

Fleming County native Stephanie Willoughby said she has two children having to work on NTI and it can be challenging. She is also concerned about whether or not her children are learning what they need to in order to move on in school.

“Both my husband and I have been labeled as “essential employees” and are still working. Thankfully, my job allows me to take my kids to work with me. However, working 8-5 everyday has made this NTI work a nightmare for parents like me,” she said. “I have one child who excels at school, and one who needs some extra help. This has thrown him off totally, and I really wonder if he is learning anything at all. Most nights now, we are up until 11 p.m. or midnight trying to finish the daily work, and then trying to get baths and everyone in bed. Yes, I totally understand these moves have had to be done, and at first, I totally supported it, but I’m not so keen on this idea any longer, and see the kids struggling to know what’s going on when they go back to school next year.”

Victoria Prater, a senior at Mason County High School said she was first excited about having a couple of weeks off school, but that excitement dwindled as the closure extended.

“I left Mason County High School on March 13, thinking I was going to get a few weeks off school and I was so excited,” she said. “The more it got extended, the more I started to realize that I could’ve already had my last day as a high schooler and now the truth is, I have had my last day as a student of Mason County.”

Prater said she expected this moment to come and though she understands it is for the best, she is still saddened by the news.

“I knew it was very likely going to happen. I know it’s for the well-being of people in our state. That still doesn’t make it any easier to let the ending of my senior year slip by me,” she said. “The rest of my senior year will be spent over Google Meets, Classroom, just pretty much over a computer. It’s truly heartbreaking.”

She also said she wants to thank the staff and administration in the district for being supportive of the students.

“I can’t thank Mason County enough for continuing to fight for us throughout this hard time. A virtual graduation would not be the same and our administration knows that too. They continue to push for our graduation to be held later in the year and for that I am thankful. I have earned that diploma and to walk across that stage like all the others before me,” she said.

The Ledger Independent is online at: http://maysville-online.com