Hopkins County Schools Superintendent Dr. Deanna Ashby said the school system is proceeding with planning for the new school year and is preparing for any curveballs COVID-19 might throw its way.

One item that will go to the board of education for a vote on Monday is a 2020-2021 virtual learning program that was adopted this past year to help continue education around COVID-19.

“We have seen there are a lot of students who have embraced the virtual learning opportunity,” said Ashby on Wednesday during a Facebook Live Update with Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. “Moving forward, we are going to offer a virtual platform for students in grades Kindergarten through Seniors regardless of what happens with COVID-19 pending board approval.”

This time of year is also the time the Hopkins County Schools Board of Education votes on a school calendar.

“The board will be reviewing two calendar drafts at Monday night’s meeting,” said Ashby. “We have to approve a variable and traditional calendar.”

Ashby said it is the system’s hope to operate on a traditional calendar.

“However, if we have to do something different with COVID we have to approve a variable calendar like what we are on now,” said Ashby.

Ashby also gave an update on COVID numbers in the school system saying on Nov. 17, 2020 the highest day was reported with 20 positive cases in the district.

“Today, we broke that record with 38,” said Ashby. “That just shows that we are trending in the wrong direction.”

Along with a record-breaking day of COVID-19 cases, Ashby said the school system started back with virtual instruction on Monday and will, as of now, return to a hybrid schedule on Jan. 19.

“We still plan to do that if at all possible,” said Ashby.

Ashby said that small group instruction is still continuing at schools at every campus. The system also continues to offer homework through Zoom, and continues to offer night schools, which is being used as a credit recovery program.

Ashby said Feb. 19 is the last day of the trimester and students can then have the option to switch to hybrid learning or to virtual learning.

“For feeding opportunities, we have 14 community meall stops and times listed on our website,” said Ashby. “Food can be picked up from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. while on virtual learning schedules. Evening pick-up is available on Wednesdays from 2-5:30 p.m. at Earlington Elementary, Grapevine Elementary, Hanson Elementary, Madisonville North Hopkins and West Hopkins.”

School staff will receive the COVID-19 vaccines in Tier 1B, according to Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach, who said the tier could begin very soon.

“We feel that when we start to vaccinate the school staff, that is the first step to getting the students back into the classrooms,” said Beach.

The Hopkins County School Board meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday night at the Hopkins County Career and Technology Center.

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