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Students won’t see classrooms this spring

School officials still must still make decisions about summer

Students in Letcher County will continue learning from home for the remainder of the school year, using non-traditional instruction days to take off the slack from days missed because of COVID-19.

Gov. Andy Beshear made the announcement on Monday after a 2 p.m. conference call with superintendents across the state.

Letcher County School Superintendent Denise Yonts said earlier that day that she did not expect to see a return to school.

Students have been working over the Internet or on paper assignments picked up at school since March 12, when schools were closed because of flu. They have not reopened since.

Yonts said that since the state legislature approved additional NTI days for students, the schools have been delivering new material via the Internet and packets sent home for those without Internet. Rather than daily attendance, the schools are checking weekly attendance to make sure the work is done.

“In the first four weeks, we’re over 90 percent attendance,” she said.

Two weeks ago, she said the attendance was the highest it has been at 92.5 percent. None have been below 90 percent.

Though the work is being done and grades are being given, NTI is new and Yonts said she still doesn’t know if students are really learning what they need to through the computer classes.

“It’s very hard to determine that right now,” she said.

She said that assuming school can resume in the fall, teachers will be pretesting to see what students retained over the summer, then the schools will use Response To Intervention, or RTI, classes to address what they didn’t.

The schools here already have RTI classes that rotate students and subject matter to help those who may be behind catch up to their classmates.

“It’s going to take a lot of intervention with kids to narrow it down by group,” she said. “It won’t be easy, and it’ll probably take all year to fill in the gaps.”

Superintendents were already expecting to have to keep schools closed. Jenkins Independent School Superintendent Mike Genton said two weeks ago that his staff was already working on lesson plans through the end of the year in case schools could not reopen by the planned May 1 date. Yonts said this week that she had already expected the closure.

“We still have decisions to make about summer school, and we do a lot of training with our staff through the summer,” Yonts said.

Those meetings are likely to be conducted online, as the Letcher County Board of Education meetings will be until the danger from the virus passes.

The next meeting will be April 27, and will be streamed live over Google Meets so the public can attend the virtual meeting. The link for the meeting was not available at press time, but The Mountain Eagle will post it on its Facebook page and web page when it is announced.

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