DCPS Families -
Gov. Andy Beshear has issued a recommendation, supported by the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Kentucky Department of Education, to delay the start of in-person classes in Kentucky until Monday, Sept. 28. The Governor and Dr. Steven Stack identified four key reasons for making this recommendation:
1) The total number of cases and positivity rate of cases remain high.
2) Children are contracting the virus and the percentage of cases among children shows a percentage increase. It is uncertain what the long-term impact of the virus might be on children. Children are also spreading the virus to other children and adults.
3) The experience with reopening schools in other states (i.e. Indiana, Georgia, and other states) indicates that infection rates are rising in those cases. Gov. Beshear also shared concerns that a continuous loop of starting/stopping in-person instruction adds instability to a child's education.
4) Families continue to travel to "hot zones,” bringing the virus back to their communities in Kentucky.
In summary, the Governor and Dr. Stack deem the viral conditions too dangerous, based on current conditions, to reopen in-person classes in Kentucky.
It is also important to note that the recommendation of the Governor and the Kentucky Department for Public Health also has the support of the Kentucky Department of Education. Interim KDE commissioner Kevin Brown has reminded us that all of those entities - the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the Kentucky Department of Education and the Office of the Governor - have the authority to close a district in the interest of public health. With that in mind, we believe it is best to proceed with the least disruptive plan in accordance with this recommendation.
The Daviess County Public Schools district has been working to develop plans to provide instruction under three levels of implementation - what we've called our "stoplight model." As you know, our original plan was to begin school on Aug. 26 in the “Yellow” status of that model, offering a choice of In-Person Instruction on the A-B Schedule with another option of a Virtual Academy as a separate stand-alone model.
Under the current recommendation, we are now proceeding with plans to implement the “Red” status of our stoplight model and will start school with a Non-Traditional Instruction/Digital platform. The Virtual Academy remains in place as a separate stand-alone model for elementary and middle schools as those platforms are closely aligned. All DCPS high school students will be engaged in NTI/Digital learning, which embraces the Virtual Academy in an enhanced format. We will implement training, support and resources in these areas as part of our Professional Learning process in the days ahead.
This will begin on Wednesday, Aug. 26. Although Gov. Beshear’s current recommendation extends only until Sept. 28, DCPS will keep the “Red” model (NTI/Digital) program in place at least until we return from Fall Break on Monday, Oct. 12.
More details will emerge from the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Department for Public Health over the next few days, providing us with more information regarding what we will be allowed to do during this period. We may be allowed to meet in person with students in small groups, such as hosting “introductory” meetings for a few students at a time to meet their new teachers. This is especially important for young children (grades K-1) and for students who are transitioning to a new school (grades 6 and 9). We are also mindful of the need for personal connections with our special education students, ELL students, and students who struggled with the NTI experience in the spring. Another area of concern involves students whose households do not have access to high-speed internet. We are working to provide support for students in all these areas of concern.
In the meantime, we also understand the hardship that is placed on families, especially those with young children. DCPS is engaged in intensive conversations spearheaded by the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and involving local businesses, non-profit organizations, churches and other agencies, working toward a goal of providing supervision for children in safe environments that will also allow them to participate and engage in NTI and Virtual Academy learning experiences.
With the support of the DCPS Board of Education, our district and school administrators are moving swiftly to pivot to this next level of planning. We wholeheartedly believe our students need to return to school in person as soon as that option is safe to do so - but until then, we remain committed to providing meaningful learning experiences for all students in a safe environment.
Thank you for your continued support as we work together on behalf of the children of Daviess County.