With the original start date of the 2020-21 school year less than two months away, local school districts are reaching out to parents and teachers to determine the needs of families in the community.

Dawson Springs Independent Schools, whose calendar had Aug. 11 as its start date, has created an online survey targeted to district stakeholders, including employees, parents and community members. Feedback from the survey will be used to “determine what route to take upon our reopening,” Supt. Lenny Whalen said in the survey’s introduction.

The survey contains 19 questions and touches on various topics including extra educational services needed outside of the regular classroom, thoughts on returning to school in various capacities, the wearing of masks, temperature checks and medical questions, computer and Internet access, possibility of campus Wi-Fi and laptop loans, school start date, transportation and meals.

From the questions in the survey, it seems as if the district has three plans in mind: Plans A, B and C.

Plan A may be all students would return to the typical classroom setting with social distancing and other preventative measures.

“Unfortunately, it appears that wearing a mask may be a key component of this scenario,” Whalen said. “However, our plan is to utilize social distancing as much as possible so students will not have to utilize masks unless absolutely necessary.”

Plan B may be two days of classroom work and two days of learning from home with half the students attending Monday and Tuesday and the other half attending Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays and weekends would be used for extra cleaning.

Plan C may be strictly virtual work for those who are not comfortable with Plans A or B, Whalen said.

The survey is open until noon Monday and can be found online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/R/X7JDJ82.

Once the results are in, Whalen said the internal leadership team will meet with some teachers from both the elementary school and the junior-senior high school as well as some parents to go through the survey feedback.

The school board originally set Aug. 11 as the start date and had Sept. 1 as a tentative rescheduled start date, Whalen said Wednesday.

“Preliminary indications with COVID ramping back up,” he added he will likely ask the board to use the later date as a starting point. The board meets again at 6 p.m. Monday, July 20.

Hopkins County Schools will start its school year on Aug. 26 and in-person classes are planned to be held, said Supt. Dr. Deanna Ashby. There will also be an alternative option for students to participate in remote learning for the 2020-21 school year.

Ashby announced the online option during last week’s Madisonville and Hopkins County Facebook live update regarding the local impact of the coronavirus. The program is an alternative to the traditional school setting for families who have concerns about COVID-19.

Starting Wednesday, a certified staff member will call families with a survey discussing education options, computer and internet access, which Ashby says will help the district inform their staffing needs and their class sizes. During the phone call, families will have the opportunity to ask questions about the specifics of the remote learning program. Calls will continue through July 15.

Ashby said they are interested to see what works best for families, whether that is the new program or traditional in-person class.

For more information, check out the Hopkins County Schools’ Facebook page or visit www.hopkins.kyschools.us. Individuals can contact the school board at 270-825-6000. The board’s next regular meeting is 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 20.

During Gov. Andy Beshear’s “Healthy at School” announcement, his team displayed their safety expectations for reopening schools for the 2020-21 academic year. The four expectations are social distancing, temperature screenings, personal protective equipment — including face-coverings, which must cover students’ mouths and nose — and sanitation.

Students enrolled in first grade and above and staff members should be required to wear cloth face coverings, unless medically waivered, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.

To help families who have students who lost access to free or reduced meals during the Nontraditional Instruction days of COVID-19, KDE and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services have offered the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer.

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. Families can collect $313.50 per enrolled student in Hopkins County schools.

On Tuesday, the cabinet announced the extension of the application deadline to the end of August.

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. 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.

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