COVID-19 prompts school closing for two weeks in Clinton County

Posted March 17, 2020 at 2:04 pm

Although there have been no official diagnosis of the coronavirus in Clinton County, the board of education decided to stay on the side of caution and close schools for a two-week period, following a recommendation made by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

The school board, during its work session last Thursday, March 12, the day the governor asked all school districts to close for two weeks due to the apparent spread of the virus, followed suit with the majority of other districts in the state and decided to cancel classes for two weeks.

Superintendent Dr. Tim Parson, who had already begun working with school faculty on a plan for such an extended break using extra cyber school days granted by the state, also recommended following the governor’s suggestions.

The discussion and subsequent verbal approval to call off school came at the end of the half-hour work session following discussions and recommendations made by the board as to how to proceed during the unexpected cyber day break.

The state granted an extra 15 cyber days in which schools will not have to add on days to the end of the school year. That is above the normal 10 days granted throughout the regular school year for inclement weather, illness or other unforeseeable circumstances.

The official two week close is to run from this past Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27 and also could lead into an extra week off, counting the district’s scheduled Spring Break.

Dr. Parson referred to the short time the district had to prepare for extended cyber days and how to make sure students continue to be educated and caught up on school work was like “building an airplane during flight” but felt with the increased number of cases being reported, it was the best thing to do at this point.

Parson noted he would expect more from faculty than just sending student packets home, but doing extra to assure criteria for cyber day instruction is met, such as video presentations, among other things.

He also noted children with special needs would have the help they needed during the two week period.

Students will be fed meals during the cyber days as buses will run to homes and deliver hot meals for lunch and breakfast foods that do not have to be heated to assure students have breakfast.

It was also noted during last week’s discussion when the board agreed on cancelling classes, that the Back Pack program, which has supplies for students who need them, will be utilized.

Parson also said that the school district’s School Resource Officers (SROs) would also be making home visits to at-risk students during the break.

Board member Kevin Marcum did have some reservations about schools not being in session for such an extended period, noting in some instances he had heard of faculty not being readily available to assist students with homework during cyber days and would like to make sure all students get the help they need while not in the classroom setting.

Board Chairperson Leslie Stockton, who agreed with the decision, noted that more cases were being confirmed and a primary concern to her was that with so few people actually getting tested, more people could actually be infected than is realized.

Most school districts in Kentucky adhered to the governor’s advice and took the two weeks off, with some in line for an additional week due to Spring Break on the horizon.

(Additional articles on the school situation, including spring sports, and the local coronavirus outbreak, are also available in this week’s Clinton County News.)

Dr. Parson also conducted a brief work session on topics that were included on the agenda for this past Monday’s regular business session.

Among the items discussed was the contract with Head Start for the Bitty Bulldog Daycare, that just got underway recently and will be in full swing for pre-school age children during the 2020-21 school year.

Parson noted the program was financially feasible and referred to it as a “mecca of childhood learning” in Clinton County.

The board also discussed the new initiative profile of a graduate, as Parson said he had been talking to several people, including local business people about the program that will help teach communication skills, citizenship, etc. to students to help them thrive in a working environment.

Details of the regular board meeting held Monday night can be found beginning on page 1.