In-person classes in the Bowling Green Independent School District will begin Aug. 24 at the earliest after the district’s board of education acted Wednesday on Gov. Andy Beshear’s recommendation to delay reopening schools.
The decision came after Beshear asked schools across the state Monday to delay reopening for in-person instruction until the third week of August at the earliest. On Wednesday, both BGISD and Warren County Public Schools answered that call in a joint statement.
“It is the intent of BGISD and WCPS to delay the start to the 2020-21 school year, and both anticipate a proposed start date of August 24, 2020, for virtual and in-person classes. It is also the intent of both districts to provide in-person classes as soon as permitted for the thousands of families in our community that have requested that option and depend on our schools to serve their children,” the school districts announced.
Following BGISD’s board action Wednesday, the Warren County school board will consider a revised school calendar Thursday and broadcast the meeting on its Facebook page at 7 p.m.
Under BGISD’s “hybrid” instruction plan, students who opt to attend school in-person will do so on alternating schedules beginning Aug. 24 and 25, respectively, allowing schools to operate at half capacity for the first two weeks and adjust their procedures as needed. Fridays will be given over to distance learning.
Students who choose to attend the district’s Virtual Academy, which will be mediated through the online learning platform Edgenuity, will begin classes Aug. 24. The district is asking students who choose this option to commit for one semester, and it’s asking students to make their learning preference known and register by Monday.
Ideally, the district is planning for a return to traditional in-person instruction on Sept. 8. So far, more than 2,700 students have registered to attend school this way, with about 550 others saying they want to attend virtually.
However, the district’s plans to fully reopen for students Sept. 8 come with one big caveat: they are subject to change based on public health recommendations.
Should the need arise, spurred by coronavirus cases that continue to climb, the district plans to have all students participate in distance learning beginning Aug. 24.
A district news release said the 2020-2021 calendar includes 166 school days for students, and with minutes added to the day, the calendar will meet the minimum state requirement of 1,062 instructional hours. Breaks throughout the year and tentative last day of school remain the same from the previously approved calendar.
Consistent with Kentucky’s Healthy At School guidelines, temperature checks will be required upon entry for all employees and students. Students between the first and 12th grades, barring some health exemptions, will be expected to wear face masks and coverings while moving and when within 6 feet of other people, according to the district.
Additionally, breakfast and lunch will include grab-and-go options and plans for social distancing while eating. Elementary school recess will include procedures for sanitizing hands and cleaning equipment. There will be no assemblies or large gatherings of students or employees. Music and performing arts classes will be modified according to guidance provided by the Kentucky Music Educators Association.
Finally, until further notice, only employees and students will be permitted to enter school buildings.
During the board meeting Wednesday, Superintendent Gary Fields made the case for widespread social distancing and mask use while in public and frequent hand-washing.
“If we want kids to come back to school, and if we want to have fall sports or winter or spring sports – If we want to have any sense of normalcy for 5-year-olds through 18-year-olds in our community – wash and sanitize your hands, wear a mask and socially distance,” Fields said.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.