Students at Jenkins Independent Schools began the school year Monday with virtual classes.
Superintendent Damian Johnson told the Jenkins School Board at its August meeting earlier this week that students picked up their materials, including Chromebook laptops and all the other materials, at a drive-through open house. The virtual classes will continue until it is deemed safe for students to return for in-person instruction.
Johnson said he, along with other teachers and administrators, had reviewed the three options available to them, and decided to open with virtual school. Students will work from home with Chromebook computers supplied by the school. Johnson said they all hope to be conducting classes in the buildings as soon as possible. Teachers hold class in empty classrooms and are available for questions and conversations with their students. They also record the classes for students with poor broadband coverage or no Internet.
Jenkins Schools will have a full menu of sports under Kentucky High School Athletic Association and health department guidelines this fall. Athletic Director Ashley Addington told the board that KHSAA guidelines will allow fall sports to proceed under local control, although no decision has been made on the number of spectators allowed in venues, or how concessions at events will be handled.
Addington said she will present the Jenkins plan to the Letcher County Health Department. Decisions on where and when to play will be made by schools and she added that coaches have been particularly flexible. Addington said the All-A Golf Tournament was held at the Raven Rock Golf Course in Jenkins and 44 student athletes participated. Cross country signups will take place soon.
Johnson praised Addington for her hard work to make sure Jenkins student-athletes are able to participate safely in sports. He said she has worked extremely well with all the coaches in a very challenging time.
“The goal is for all the kids to be able to play safely,” said Johnson. “We’ll follow the guidelines and be safe.”
In other business, Johnson introduced the board to three new teachers. Travis Fields, a Morehead State University graduate, will teach high school English. Jeremy Bell will serve as a special education teacher and defensive coordinator for the high school football team. Chris Salyers will teach high school history, and Jenna Robinson will teach middle school social studies.
District Finance Officer Candala Gibson reported that the system will start the year with $401,456.23, as of July 31. Gibson added that the working budget will be due next month. The band room floor is being tiled other classrooms are being stripped and painted.
Elementary Principal Amanda Anderson reported that her staff has been working hard to get ready for opening day. She praised retired educator Amanda Bolt for her help. She said Mrs. Bolt has been “a game changer” with her assistance. Bolt was a long-time elementary teacher at Jenkins. A balanced learning plan has been set up with COVID-19 in mind.
High School Principal Rondall Baker said back-to-school activities in the high school have gone well, and that dual credit classes with the University of Pikeville have been set up. He said teachers will be doing videos for students without broadband and staff members have been given an extra time block to make sure they can accommodate the needs of the students. Baker added there are approximately 400 students enrolled in Jenkins Schools. Home visits to encourage participation in the virtual classroom will begin soon.
Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator Bryan Bentley said a good deal of planning went into a successful opening day, and recorded trainings in child abuse prevention and Zoom trainings in suicide prevention will be made available to teachers and staff. He added that he and other staffers have received training from the Kentucky Department of Education on starting school remotely, and he is working with all the high school teachers to get them all certified in Google Level One.
Director of Technology Doug Barnett told the board he has gotten student accounts ready, and that this year students will be able to log into all their programs with one login key. Barnett said that Bentley has worked on Google programs and he has been getting the Chromebooks ready.
The board also approved a student handbook and grading policies for the coming year. The student handbook is available on the school website www.jenkins.k12.ky.us/.
The board voted to accept the low bid from Pepsi to service drink machines and concession stands. Childers Oil submitted the only bid for fuel and petroleum products.