The Mercer County School System is looking at helping students overcome deficits from the lack of in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Academic Officer Jason McAllister said the district is taking a multi-year approach to providing instruction through the Titan Academy program for students who have missed time.
“They lost a great deal of time,” said McAllister at last week’s meeting of the Mercer County Board of Education. “There is no replacement for having kids in front of somebody instructionally.”
He said even advanced learners have shown deficits. The academy will offer intentional instruction over a three-year period, focusing on missed instructional opportunities. The academy is voluntary for students.
School officials are proposing holding 24 instructional days during break periods. The academy will be available to all students, said McAllister, who called it a “great way” to get back some of the lost instructional time. With a proposed ratio of eight to 10 kids per teacher, McAllister said they hope to provide each student with instruction specifically designed to help in areas where they run deficits.
The academy will operate from 8:30 a.m. to noon for 10 days in July before the start of the school year, with the other days spread over the seasonal breaks. For younger students, it would be 72 opportunities for instruction, McAllister said.
The academy will be paid for with money from the federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Fund. Officials hope to provide more details on funding next month.
The board approved the calendars for the 2021-22 and 2022-2023 school years, which include optional days for Titan Academy.
Most of the schools reopened to in-person instruction on Monday, March 15. Superintendent Dennis Davis said the week had gone very well.
“Everybody is exhausted,” Davis said. “We’ve been in school for four days and everybody is worn out.”
May 25 will be the students’ last day while May 26 will be the last day for staff.
In other business, the board learned Mercer County Senior High School will hold the 2021 prom at the Farmstead at Shawnee Springs on Saturday, April 24, and will hold their graduation ceremony at Alvis Johnson Field on Friday, May 28.
Principal Spencer Tatum gave the school board a rundown on how the high school would hold events while still maintaining social distancing protocols, which will be the new normal until herd immunity against the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 is attained.
Tatum said Alvis Johnson Field has enough room to allow for social distancing. It’s a holiday weekend, so if the weather does not cooperate on Friday, they have a four-day window.
He said the preliminary plan is for graduates to gather on the football field while guests sit on bleachers or on the grounds. The principal said they still need to work out capacity.
“We feel like that’s our best proposal,” Tatum said. “It’ll be a whole lot better than what we tried to do last year.”
For the rest of the story, check out this week’s edition of the Harrodsburg Herald or subscribe to the online edition.