Hopkins County Schools has focused on the theme “Vision 2020 — Learn & Inspire” throughout this school year. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have tried our best to keep that focus while serving our children and the community in ways we could not have anticipated last August.
Responding to a global pandemic wasn’t written into our lesson plans when the school year started. We began the school year as a district by reaching out personally to the community through a variety of service projects, bagging groceries, delivering food to First Responders, playing with kids in daycare, and more. Now, #TeamHopkins is offering a different type of outreach.
Hopkins County Schools will be closed through at least April 10 due to the pandemic. During this time, Gov. Beshear has recommended schools continue to offer our services through instruction, food services, and Family Resource Youth Service Centers. We are determined to meet these challenges in the best manner possible, while also doing what we can to keep students and staff safe.
To continue instruction, we are using SKILLS Days. We are fortunate to have already had this program so we could offer non-traditional instruction on days when snow or flooding kept us from safely reaching the schools. When this extended break began, we still had three SKILLS Days remaining of our original allotment.
Kentucky Department of Education has granted Hopkins County Schools an additional 10 NTI days, for a total of 20, and we have been told there is a possibility more days will be granted. Our teachers are using a variety of innovative ways to reach out to their students and provide their lessons.
Some schools have broadcast their Pledge of Allegiance and morning announcements through Facebook videos to maintain a sense of normalcy. Several elementary schools have also publicized theme days to keep younger children engaged while they are at home. Since we are out for such an extended period of time, it is even more important that students continue to work on their SKILLS assignments so that learning continues.
It has been a blessing to continue to serve our community through our meal programs. Pick-up sites have been set up at 10 locations where families can get a bag lunch for the children, as well as breakfast for the next day. We have expanded that with buses providing delivery to designated community stops along modified routes.
A list of these meal sites and community stops is regularly updated on the district website, www.hopkins.kyschools.us. When the meal program started Monday, we had provided meals for 811 children. By Wednesday, that number had already increased to 1,192, even with rain likely keeping some families away.
Our Family Resource Youth Service Centers are also helping meet the needs of students and families. Many are familiar with Backpack Blessings, which provides single-serve, easy-to-prepare food for our kids each Friday. We have brought the supplies for that to one central location so that FRYSC coordinators and other staff could continue to prepare the bags.
They were delivered Friday to students who have been receiving the service this school year. A huge thank you goes out to all of the local businesses, churches, and community members who have helped with this tremendous effort! Yesterday, students also received hygiene items in addition to food.
During the closure, we are also focusing on cleaning and disinfecting our buildings. Our Maintenance and Facilities Department has met with custodians at each school, providing instructions of the most effective ways to deep clean anything that a student or teacher could touch in the building.
Throughout, the district has tried to increase our communication with community, students, and families through social media and our website. We have also started a page on our website that is compiling all of our information related to the pandemic, www.hopkins.kyschools.us/covid-19. We realize that people have questions about upcoming events. As the situation continues to evolve, we simply do not have all of these answers. However, we will make announcements as soon as decisions are made.
Please know that we are so appreciative of the tremendous outpouring of support we have received from our entire community! We don’t want any child to ever lack for food or other items that they need. We want to do our part, as limited as it may be, to support our students and families during these quickly changing times.
We really miss our kids and look forward to them returning to school as soon as it is safe to do so! Going along with the 20/20 Vision theme is the belief that “Every child has a story if you take the time to read it.” We look forward to seeing our children back in our classrooms and hearing all the many stories that they will have to share.