Most parents are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the fall school schedule all across the country and Mercer County is not an exception. COVID-19 has impacted Mercer County students since March’s shutdown and with regulations changing rapidly no concrete information has been available.
“Since the end of the 2019-2020 school year, multiple committees including Central Office administrators, principals, teachers, and parents have been working on many different options for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year..” said Dennis Davis, superintendent of Mercer County schools. “We all know that COVID-19 virus is an ever-changing situation but one thing that has been constant throughout the process is the District’s commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our students, families, and staff.”
Davis said Mercer County Schools would follow all recommendations given from federal and state authorities.
“Governor Beshear and Lt. Governor Coleman released ‘Healthy at School’ guidelines earlier this week,” said Davis. “We have been discussing this information and making sure that each recommendation is being followed. Within the next few weeks, we will be releasing our Return to School plan.”
Davis said that although he could not give families a detailed plan for what will happen this fall he is willing to share the things he does know in a letter to families released Monday.
• Each district was asked to develop three calendars for the start of school. A July date, an August date, and a September date. “We will not be starting school in July,” said Davis. “The August 12 date and the September 2 date are still options. We will be monitoring the COVID-19 virus very closely over the next few weeks to make an announcement on the first day of school.”
• Mercer County Schools will be providing in-class instruction. “We are not for sure what exactly this will look like but we are committed to providing some type of face-to-face instruction with a teacher,” said Davis.
• The district will be providing a “online academy” option. “ If a parent or student does not feel comfortable coming to campus for face-to-face instruction, the student will be given an option to enroll in our online academy,” said Davis. “This will allow students to be able to complete a quality online instructional program from their own house. This will be available at each grade level from Kindergarten to 12th grade.”
• A survey for parents has been released. “We’re asking for your help to make the best decision possible for our students, families, and staff,” said Davis. “Your input is very important to us and is critical as we prepare for the next school year.”
Ester Hayslett, DPP for Mercer County Schools says she has been fielding questions from parents all week.
The online academy is not Titan Learning days. It will be instruction provided through either Odyssey Learning for grades K-5 or Apex Learning for 6-12 according to Hayslett.
“Titan Learning days will be utilized in case of weather or emergency situations. It would not be the long term option,” said Hayslett. “The online academy would be the long term option for families uncomfortable with in person instruction.”
Hayslett said the online academy would be more like homeschooling but the students would remain enrolled in Mercer County Schools.
“The most common question among parents is whether the options can be changed,” said Hayslett. “If a student starts out online we ask they complete a semester before changing their mind.”
Hayslett said for those who choose in person instruction it will be an in and out process based upon virus activity within the schools.
“If someone contracts the virus within the school we will shut down and trace the person’s path while working with the health department,” said Hayslett. “While that is happening online google meet classes will be utilized to continue instruction.”
In addition to in person and completely online the schools will also offer a hybrid option.
“The survey is instrumental in determining what exactly we will offer,” said Hayslett. “We want to know what parents want. We cannot guarantee we can give it all to them but we would like to hear from them.”
Other questions parents had involved extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs.
“We have to get clarification but as far as we are concerned online students are eligible for everything an in person student has,” said Haylestt. “Band and Chorus are different though. They are actual classes and we are looking into options for families in that regard.”
Hayslett said it is important for families to let the school know what they would like to see in the coming school year.
For more information or to take the survey visit the district’s website at mercer.kyschools.us, follow their Facebook page or call the district at 733-7000.