At Monday’s meeting, the Hopkins County School Board approved the “Test to Stay” program for the district, which should reduce or even eliminate unnecessary quarantines due to COVID-19 exposure.

School Board Chairman Shannon Embry said the program is at no cost to parents and could keep more students out of quarantine.

“This test to stay is one thing we are working on to keep kids from having to quarantine as much as possible,” he said.

The program has to have parents’ permission, but would allow a child who has come into contact with a positive COVID-19 case to be tested for five consecutive days. If the test comes back negative each day, the student can remain in school. If the child tests negative that fifth day, then the student would not need to be tested again.

Hopkins County Schools Superintendent Amy Smith said the school district partnered with Ethos Labs to perform the testing.

“We felt like this was a great opportunity for us,” she said.

Information will be released to the parents today on the school district website, and each school will be sharing its own protocols regarding where testing will occur today as well. She said the goal is to get the program up and running by Monday.

“Test to stay” was created by the passage of Senate Bill 1 (House Bill 1) during a special legislative session in Frankfort last month. Districts are under no obligation to implement the program, but it has been offer to all public schools in the state. The program could potentially reduce quarantine during both classroom work and extracurricular activities.

Several parents spoke up during the meeting to address the board on the mask requirement in schools. Mark Stanley said when the board decided to approve the requirement, the parent’s concerns were not taken into account.

“I feel like you as a board, you took away my right to chose for my daughter,” he said. “I have the right to chose.”

He asked the board, as a father, to reconsider the mask requirement and reach out to the community to see what they are saying.

School board member Steve Faulk told the parents and teachers in attendance that the board is listening to their concerns.

“Believe me we struggle with this every day and do everything we can do to keep the kids safe,” he said. “Keeping our children in school is the number one. They cannot be out of school again.”

Embry added that the schools have been in-person for eight consecutive weeks, which should speak volumes.

Also during the meeting, school board member Bobby Fox was recognized for his induction into the Hopkins County Central High School Hall of Fame.

Smith said Fox served as a coach in Hopkins County from 1964 to 2010 and has served as a member of the Hopkins County School Board since 2019.

“We just want to take the time to thank you for your service, and we appreciate all you did and continue to do for us,” she said.

The board also made a change to the SBDM policy where the board would have to approve more restrictive changes at each school, like if a specific school wants to have a more restrictive dress code. The board also revised the Code of Conduct, so the board has the power to make telecommunication changes for the individual schools.

Smith said the changes are to make the school district more cohesive.

In other news from Monday’s meeting, the school board:

recognized Jamie Hamby, a teacher with Southside Elementary, with a Remember Your Why” award.

heard the state’s 2021 school assessment results from Dr. Andy Belcher.

approved to request a school emergency day waiver from the state for school day that was affected by the boil water advisory in Madisonville and Earlington.

approved a memorandum of understanding with Western Kentucky University for professional education preparation partnership for the 2021-2024 school years.

approved the final SBDM allocations for the 2021-2022 school year.

approved to declare three Miller Thunderbolt 150 amp stick Welders at Hopkins County Career and Technology Center as surplus.

approved the Ricoh Copier lease agreement for the Special Education Department at the central office.

approved the 2021-2022 calendar committee.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1 at the Hopkins County Career and Technology Center.

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