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Danville Schools to use online only learning

It’s official: Danville Schools will begin the fall semester with online learning only, which may continue through the end of the semester. However, details of how this will be carried out for the best interest of the students are still being developed.

“Parents and students need to realize this isn’t what NTI (Non Traditional Instruction) was when you guys had to create it in 48 hours,” said board chair Steve Becker. He added that the board wants to assure families and students that “we’re not back with packets and we’re able to accommodate their kids, and special needs kids.”

Last week families were given three choices of how they prefer to send their children back to school in late August. 

However, the school board decided at its regular meeting Wednesday night to back Superintendent Dr. Tammy McDonald’s recommendation to go all online for now. 

One of the reasons McDonald gave was the strict Kentucky Department of Education guidelines would be too difficult, if not impossible to follow. A document circulated by the KDA titled “Healthy At Schools” outlines safety expectations, McDonald said. “… and it literally states they are a must.”

She said, “The language of the last couple of weeks, it’s been a constant reminder that these … are basically requirements. It is expected that we do those.”

McDonald said that administrators and teachers have been reviewing the guidelines and are pointing out more practices that will have to be changed to meet the “letter of the law.”

She said, “We’re seeing more and more that it’s a little more of a challenge than we first anticipated. We’ve been working for the last month … there are some that we would not meet.”

At the meeting board members and administrators discussed reasons why turning to online instruction first would be in the best interest of the district because of the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state. 

Assistant Superintendent Sheri Satterly said she received a text from someone who suggested that there are families, “Who could shut down the whole district because they have kids in every school building, and one of the parents might teach. One family could impact the entire district.”

Becker said, “Online is going to be challenging. I’m just hoping that we’re going to have enough teeth in it that our kids will actually learn and be able to advance.”

“I think we absolutely will have enough teeth in it. I think we had as much teeth in it as we could in the spring with having such short notice,” replied Satterly.

She said she received several compliments on how teachers handled the NTI learning, and saw first-hand how her son’s teacher did a wonderful job teaching when the school was closed for the last months of the school year. 

“They did as wonderful a job as they could under the circumstances. … But that’s my fear, that we’re going to have to make that decision on the fly.”

Satterly added,” I don’t want to do this, but I also don’t want to quarantine a class of kids for 14 days, and a teacher and an assistant and a cafeteria worker they may have come in contact with. I just think we have time to plan right now.”

Board member Lori Finke agreed and said she’d rather have a month to prepare for work schedules and online learning for her children, than have only one or two days to make arrangements in case of another shut down.

There are many details the administration are working on to assist students and families with the online learning model, such as making sure each student has an iPad or Chromebook (depending on the age of the child) so siblings won’t have to share one device; and tutorials on how to work those devices are being recorded to show adults how those devices work. 

There will also be more consistency in the learning platform, Satterly said. “Everything will be posted on Google Classroom.”

For students who don’t have internet access at home, McDonald said they’re researching having the district purchase hot spots for those families.

“We’re working to provide that to families who need that assistance,” McDonald said.

The district is asking families to submit their Family Choice Survey which will give administrators insight into foodservice and internet access needs for our students. The link to the survey is:

https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSc9AsqV2XrJ3ZkPZn…/viewform

Or, you may call the central office at (859) 238-1300.

Details on how the 2020-2021 school year will be carried out will be released as soon as they have been ironed out, McDonald said.