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Hardin County students could choose 'traditional' or 'online' learning option for next school year

Teachers will reach out to parents to discuss options for the 2020-21 school year, which include in-person instruction and an online academy.

HARDIN COUNTY, Ky. — Hardin County Schools has released potential plans for students returning to school amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ‘Returning to School’ plan gives parents two options:

Traditional school will allow students to return to campuses and classrooms with a regular schedule and in-person teachers. The plan will follow procedures in accordance with the state’s Healthy at School Guidelines.

Those returning to the building will be subject to changes including daily temperature checks, social distancing in common areas with spaces specially marked for safe distance, required masks during transitions and in classrooms when social distancing isn’t possible.

RELATED: Kentucky students must wear masks if less than six feet apart, state says

The district said they would provide masks for those who don’t have their own.

The bus ride to school will have similar requirements. Parents will have to ensure their child is fever-free before getting on the bus. The district will also encourage families who attend the same school to sit together during the ride.

Hand sanitizer will be made available and the district said they will make sure buses are sanitized between each route.

Masks will also be required on buses.

Students enrolled in the Online Learning Academy will receive a virtual learning experience and interaction from teachers on a set schedule. 

“We knew going into putting the document together that the Online Learning Academy had to exist,” Hardin Co. Schools Director of Public Relations John Wright said.

The Online Learning Academy will give kids who have compromised immune systems, or whose parents don’t feel ready to send them back to the classroom, the same quality education students at school are getting.

However, district officials said this format is not the same as non-traditional instruction, or NTI, which was used at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. 

NTI “will only be used for short term closures including snow days or restrictions related to public health guidelines,” according to the district.

Schools all over the state prepared plans for NTI with little warning, and oftentimes strayed from original lesson plans due to the newness of online learning.

But now, Hardin County has had a summer to prepare an Online Learning Academy that will mirror traditional schooling in terms of intensity and expectations.

“There is a lot more accountability on behalf of the students,” Wright said. “There’s going to be a stronger and more consistent communication between teacher and student, between teacher and parent.”

There is also a meal option either at regular or free/reduced cost to families, but the meals must be picked up from the school.

Students have the option of doing one semester or trimester of online learning, and then going back to the school building.

“If a student does go through a semester or a trimester of learning in the Online Learning Academy and they choose to come back…they can pick up right back where they left off in the Online Learning Academy,” Wright said.

If a child participates in extracurricular activities, they still can if they meet the requirements.

For more information on the plan, click here.

John Wright, director of public communications for the district, said officials thought about doing a survey but wanted to make personal contact with parents about their choice. He said in a Facebook post on Sunday that teachers will use one of their professional development days to reach out to parents in the district.

The Hardin County School Board will meet on July 16 to discuss the new proposed school start date of Aug. 24 instead of Aug. 6. They say the new date wouldn't affect fall, winter, or spring breaks and the last day of school would be May 21, 2021. 

There are around 15,000 students enrolled in Hardin County Schools. 

Hardin County is one of the first districts in our area of Kentucky that has released plans for the 2020-21 school year. Other districts are working to finalize plans soon.

In an email JCPS, says it plans to have a final decision by the July 21 board meeting.

Shelby County will let parents know mid-July, soon after a board meeting on July 9.

Oldham County plans to submit a plan to the school board on July 14, with final approval on July 27.

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