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Jessamine students return to classes Aug. 26, but things will look different because of coronavirus precautions

Students in Jessamine County Public Schools will return to classes Aug. 26, but going back to school in the midst of a viral outbreak is going to look different from what they’ve experienced before.

The state Department of Education and the Department for Public Health recommend students wear masks in the classroom and on the school bus, social distance and eat their meals from disposable containers with disposable utensils.

“We know some of these things will be difficult to do in schools, and we tried to minimize these difficulties as much as possible when we developed the guidance. But these are the things we need to do to keep students, staff and communities safe,” Dr. Steven Stack, the state’s commissioner for public health, said in a statement June 24 when a task force issued the guidance for kindergarten through 12th grades.

Jessamine County Superintendent Matt Moore said committees have been looking at how to implement procedures to follow state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and the administration will get input from the Jessamine County Health Department on what to do in terms of distancing, face coverings, and transportation and cafeteria operations. Guidelines will then be sent out to families.

“There are so many things that we’ve always done a certain way. We have always welcomed family members onto our campuses. But we want to make sure … that’s done safely,” Moore said.

“The thing I am very appreciative of is that during this pandemic, we are promoting families as much as education,” he said.

Moore said the Board of Education looked at different options for the school calendar and decided on a two-week delay from the original start date, which was to have been Aug. 12. That’s still the day faculty and staff are expected to return.

“What that’s going to do for us is it gives us the advantage of having an additional five days for staff to come in and do some preparation” and training before students return.

The calendar keeps all of the breaks — spring, fall and winter — and students will get out for summer on May 21.

One big decision school officials made is to offer a model virtual academic allowing studens to learn online if they and their parents prefer that to a classroom setting.

“They can receive all of their instruction virtually,” he said.

The virtual academy curriculum will be aligned with what happens in the classroom, and its calendar will be the same.

Details are still being worked out on models for traditional instruction at the preschool, kindergarten, elementary and high school levels.

Plans and calendars are subject to modification if there is a spike in coronavirus cases and the governor orders changes.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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