The clock is ticking for families to collect $313.50 per enrolled student in Hopkins County schools.
According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Tuesday is the last day for families to apply for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer.
The P-EBT is a joint program between CHFS and the Kentucky Department of Education. It is a financial resource for families with students who lost access to free or reduced meals during the Nontraditional Instruction days of COVID-19.
According to KDE, every student enrolled in Hopkins County schools or Dawson Springs is eligible for the benefit, as both districts have Community Eligibility Provisions for its schools.
“We encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity,” said Hopkins County director of pupil personnel April Devine.
Families who currently get state assistance like SNAP, STAP, Kinship Care or Medicaid already have, or will have, funds loaded to their account, according to CHFS spokesperson Anya Weber.
In a previous report, Weber said all other families have to fill out a short application at benefind.ky.gov.
According to the website, applicants should have their student’s first name, last name, date of birth and their Statewide Student ID — which can be obtained from your student’s school district.
Last month, Hopkins County Schools contacted families through phone calls and text messages with SSID numbers. As this is a joint effort between KDE and CHFS, districts do not have all the answers about the program. Instead, applicants can email the P-EBT information Hub at PEBT.Info@ky.gov for more information.
If the applicant is approved, the P-EBT card comes within 10 business days. It can be used to purchase any household foods, such as fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy products, bread and cereals, snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages, and seeds or plants that produce food.
However, it can’t be used to purchase supplements, hot foods, and non-food items like pet food, cleaning supplies, hygiene products or tobacco products, according to the CHFS.
For more information about the program, visit bit.ly/KY_P-EBT.
Both school districts are also working through this week’s “Healthy at School” guidance from the governor’s office.
One of the guidance expectations regards temperature checks through touchless thermometers. Having been part of several superintendent cohorts during this unprecedented time and weekly webinar’s with the interim education commissioner, Hopkins County Supt. Dr. Deanna Ashby said she was taken aback by the temperature checks decision.
“I was surprised that we were going to be required to take everybody’s temperature,” she said. “We knew that our employees need to be checked, and we have a plan in place that we’re working on.”
But temperature checking each student will take time, which Ashby did not anticipate.
“We’re going to have to determine how we’re going to make that happen,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to buy thermometers. And now we have 172 districts that are going to be in the market trying to find a way to take everybody’s temperature.”
Students entering school cannot have a temperature higher than 100.4. For bus riders, parents must attest that their temperature is okay before loading, some busses may check temps while loading, while others will be scanned at school depending on equipment availability, according to Ashby.
Bus drivers and monitors will face new challenges as well. Not only will some take temperatures, but districts will create a bus transportation plan which includes sanitation, screening and social distance plans.
According to the guidance document, the seat directly behind the driver will remain empty. Students are expected to wear face masks unless they are medically waivered. Students will load from the back of the bus to the front while offloading from the front to the back.
When a bus is not at full capacity, seating should be staggered. Students from the same household should sit together. If feasible, routes will assign seats. Students should remain seated until their time to exit, and not congregate in the aisles.
“What I’m looking at is trying to devise a way in which we can have a blended approach to that,” Ashby said. “If we can get enough thermometers were we can check students when they get on or off the bus, and then do car riders when they come in the door. That’s probably the way we’re going to go with it.”
Ashby’s concern is that all students will have to be checked within a 20-minute window. She said at the high schools, where there are between 800 and 1,000 students, they will have to have the equipment, and kids will have to maintain six-foot distance, all while trying to get in the building.
“We’re going to have to be strategic in how we work that out, but once the kids get out of their car and come in, they’re supposed to have their mask on,” she said. “We know it’s going to be a challenge, but I will say this: I have one of the most creative leadership teams of principals and directors, and my teachers and staff have been so flexible, so creative, so willing to step up and do whatever it takes. We want our kids back in school. We want to be back in school, so we’ll make it happened.”
Dawson Supt. Lenny Whalen said his team is still digesting the information from Wednesday’s announcement.
“We have some tentative ideas but will be working to finalize some solutions in the coming weeks,” he said. “We intend to get a survey out to local stakeholders hopefully late next week to help guide us some as we build plans.”