OWENSBORO, Ky (WEHT) Owensboro Catholic Schools officials say that while they respect the weight of the decisions of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, they plan to return to in-person classes for K-6 students on Monday. Grades 7-12 are scheduled to return to in-person class the next week, on December 7.
This follows a decision by a judge in a suit filed by Danville Christian Academy, where an injunction was granted against Gov. Beshear’s order stopping in-person learning at religious schools for several weeks. Gov. Beshear’s office is appealing that judge’s ruling.
OCS says they believe they can support the governors efforts and safely return children to the classroom. K-6 families not comfortable with sending their child the week of November 30 will continue virtual learning for the week.
“We were pleased and excited and we began to study what our best course of action would be in getting students back in,” says Keith Osborne, Chief Administrative Officer for Owensboro Catholic Schools.
School officials say they are going to assess the situation Wednesday or Thursday to see if they think they can safely bring the students back to school the following week. In an email, OCS said:
“This decision makes more sense for our system because our experience and our data support going back to school, especially at the elementary level. Nearly all the challenges we have faced in our system were with the older students, because they have more of a social life over the weekends and on holidays. We think that trying to find childcare for elementary aged students could do more to increase transmissions. Not only is it hard to find, but we don’t want parents using vulnerable relatives or older students outside the household to babysit.”
“We just want to give ourselves an extra week to make sure that the numbers don’t go in the wrong direction and have to force us to have to do something that second or third week out,” says Osborne.
“I was excited because I know the schools have taken a lot of precautions to make sure that the kids are safe with all the cleaning and the extra cubicles and everything that they have provided the students, and the extra time and expense,” adds Charlie Johnson, whose child attends Owensboro Catholic Schools.
On November 18, Gov. Beshear announced that all public and private K-12 schools are to cease in-person instruction beginning November 23. The order was issued to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Kentucky Attorney General David Cameron and several private schools sued the governor, arguing that a school closure order not only violated state law but also the First Amendment. OCS has not joined the lawsuit, but Heritage Christian in Owensboro has.
Heritage Christian officials say they’re waiting to see what happens with an appeal Gov. Beshear’s office filed following the judge’s ruling. Osborne also says even if the judge’s decision is overturned by the court of appeals, they will do what is required of them by the state, just like they did Governor Beshear’s original order was handed down earlier this month.
(This story was originally published on November 27, 2020)