Webster County School Board met on Monday night, but it wasn’t your typical board meeting. Instead of a board room packed with district employees, students and parents, attendance was limited to board members, the superintendent, the district finance officer, the district IT director and the media. Everyone present was plugged into a computer and separated by at least six feet, to follow the establish social distancing rules issued in response to the Coronavirus.
Other district employees and interested parties were invited to take part in the meeting, which was live streamed through the district’s website. Board member Cameron Edwards took part in the meeting electronically over his cellphone from a parked car.
Among the top items of conversation was the district’s response to COVID-19.
Webster County Schools have been out of session since Monday, March 16, following a recommendation from Governor Andy Beshear. The deadline on when schools are going to be allowed to return to session has been changed three times.
Currently school is scheduled to resume on April 17, but Superintendent Rhonda Callaway told board members that Governor Beshear has warned them that they should prepare to be out until at least the first full week of May. For now he told educators that he plans to take it two weeks at a time, beginning with April 17.
State law makers give districts up to ten Nontraditional Learning Days (NTI) per school year. These days, known locally as Link2Learn Days, were created to fill the gaps created by snow days and other short term problems and help prevent schools from having to make up days.
Webster County had used three Link2Learn days prior to COVID-19.
Legislators have elected to add an additional 30 NTI days to schools, helping to ease the burden of the closure, and hopefully shortening the school year.
As it stands now, Webster County would have enough NTI days to last through May 8. The current scheduled last day for students is May 15, one week later.
For the moment, all future plans for schools across the state are on hold.
Spring sports are still currently on hold, pending a decision from the KHSAA.
Teachers and students did get some relief last week when it was announced that annual state assessment testing would be suspended.
Callaway thanked board employees for their hard work during the current crisis.
“Our teachers are getting more creative and innovative than I’ve ever seen, since we started Link2Learn,” she said. “Our food services are working different than ever before. Last week, they served 3,101 meals in four days. Today they served 4,325 meals. They are doing a fabulous job. We’ve also had a lot of volunteers helping us load food.”
Contact Matt Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-667-2069