OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) — The Owensboro School Board approved a reopening plan for the upcoming school year Thursday night.
The first day of school is now August 24.
There are two options for students: The A-B schedule or the virtual academy. Under the A-B schedule, Group A students would attend in-person classes Monday and Tuesday and do distance learning Wednesday-Friday. Group B students will attend in-person classes on Thursday and Friday and do distance learning Monday-Wednesday. School buildings will be deep cleaned on Wednesdays.
The A/B plan will be in place through October 2, which is fall break. Parents will know by September 18 whether the A/B schedule will continue.
For the OPS Virtual Academy, devices will be provided to all students. Students enrolled must stay in the Virtual Academy for the duration of the semester unless restrictions are lifted. The Academy will not be a live-stream going into an in-person instruction classroom; it is separate. Superintendent Dr. Matthew Constant says he didn’t want teachers having to teach distant and in-person students at once.
For both the A-B schedule and the Virtual Academy, Wednesday will be similar to a teacher work day. Students will have assignments to do, and teachers will be available to help students and answer questions.
“I feel good about the plan we have. It’s not ideal, the ideal would be everybody back 100% as normal, but given the pandemic, nothing is normal these days, and so we had to land on a strategy that we hope will appease most people,” Constant said. “When you look at the health and safety regulations in terms of the distancing, and the disinfection and cleaning that’s going to be required in the supervision of kids. We knew that if we brought all kids back right now, given those conditions, that there would just be too many in any building.”
Using CARES Act funding, OPS plans to hire 19 bus aides who will take students’ temperatures before boarding the bus and make sure they are wearing masks. For in-person learning, masks will be required for students in grades K-12, and a mask will be provided if a student doesn’t have one.
Testing for all teachers before school starts will not be mandated due to concerns about testing capacity, but the district is working with health officials on that.
Meal services will be provided free for all students, regardless of which option they choose. Officials say they’re still working out exact details of how that will work for students not in the school buildings.
All students in grades 3-12 will be assigned Chromebooks, and the district is continuing to work on getting them for K-2 students as well.
“We’re finding that it’s harder and harder to find the inventory and get the devices actually in here, but we’re going to do our best and hopefully be able to achieve that goal of K-12 device access,” Constant said.
(This story was originally published on July 23, 2020)