Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday during his daily COVID-19 press conference that he signed the recently-passed bill to give school districts an unlimited number of non-traditional learning days in the case of an emergency. If signed, the bill will allow districts to teach from home without being penalized.
Christian County Public Schools began its NTI program on March 16. Last Friday, Superintendent Mary Ann Gemmill announced that, upon the governor’s request, CCPS would extend its NTI period until April 20.
“I was not surprised honestly,” Gemmill said. “Because I think there are too many challenges in addressing this issue (COVID-19).”
She said the district was prepared for an extended closure before the governor made the announcement.
“We, honestly, already had a plan in place for (NTI),” she said. “We have never implemented that plan, but we did have a plan.”
She added that the extended closure meant that the district had to extend services beyond the 10 days that state law currently allows for NTI.
For Jason Wilson, CCPS technology director, the extended closure has let his team shine.
“Nobody has ever seen this before,” he said. “So my team, we have had to really spend a lot of time with our parents, our teachers, our grandparents, our students trying to troubleshoot and fix problems that we can’t see.”
Under normal circumstances, if a teacher or student has a computer problem, the technology department can remotely take over the computer as it is on the schools network. Now, teachers, students and guardians are using personal equipment or district equipment on their own networks.
“My team has done a great job,” he said. “I feel like their ‘customer service’ and patience has been exceptional.”
The extended closure also means Penny Holt, CCPS food service director, has to get food to students while they aren’t physically in the classroom.
“We, of course, faced a few challenges,” she said. “…but I was very proud of my staff and how they just took it on themselves to get this done.”
She added that the food service department has a bit of experience packing lunches for field trips.
“But nothing of this magnitude,” she said. “Over the past six days we’ve served over 13,185 breakfast and lunch (meals).”
Each school has served breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria each day to anyone 18 years old and younger. The district has also filled buses with food to deliver meals throughout the county.
Wilson said the district will keep tweaking how it supplies instruction and food over time as suggestions come from teachers and guardians.
Gemmill added that the district’s NTI plan would not work without help from the governor all the way down to local officials.
“I believe that collectively, we’re just doing the best that we know how,” she said. “But all under consideration for what’s best for our kids and our families and I just appreciate their guidance.”