McCracken superintendent talks reopening schools at Rotary

McCracken County School District Superintendent Steve Carter gave a presentation on reopening schools and the overall district during the Rotary Club of Paducah’s weekly virtual meeting Wednesday. He also took questions from Rotarians about various issues related to reopening.

Superintendent Steve Carter gave an overview on COVID-19 related changes planned in the McCracken County School District to the Rotary Club of Paducah Wednesday, as it delays in-person instruction following the state’s recommendation.

McCracken County students will start their classes Aug. 24 through virtual learning, Carter confirmed, after Gov. Andy Beshear recommended a delay for in-school learning until Sept. 28. As expected, day-to-day operations will be different for the district’s 2020-2021 school year. There will be face masks, changed bus routes, temperature checks, more intensive cleaning and other measures.

“Many of you all know, on Monday, we had a call with the governor and commissioner of education that was very disappointing for me,” he said, referencing the state’s recommendation.

“... We’ve been working for months with guidance from Department for Public Health, the governor’s office, also balancing (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and all the different entities that’s put out information.”

Carter went over student and school statistics, accomplishments and updates during Wednesday’s Rotary meeting, before launching into a slideshow presentation on reopening plans for McCracken County.

“We had polled our staff, polled our families and our communities and nearly 100% of our staff wanted to return in-person and we had probably around 75% of our community that said that they wanted their students to be back in school,” he said.

“And the students need to be back in school, and we’re going to do everything we can to move as quickly as we can to get those students back. We’re looking at ways that are still within guidance and allow us, even while we’re on virtual learning, to run our buses, pick up students and have like miniature enrichment camps over the next few weeks.”

Carter told Rotarians the district ordered 4,300 new Chromebooks, in anticipation of virtual learning, and purchased online software, Edgenuity, which is a kindergarten through grade 12 platform. On top of the one-to-one learning for grades 6 through 12, it’s providing additional Chromebooks for elementary schools to use for any families that may need them.

He also discussed changes planned for in-person instruction.

“We modified some of our start and end times for schools, so all of our schools will have 385 instructional minutes per day,” he said. “High school and middle school students will get home before the elementary siblings, if they have any.”

It allows the schools to separate student groups for transportation.

“High school students will ride on a bus with just high school students,” Carter explained.

“Middle school students will ride with just middle school students. They will drop-off and then the buses will go back out and pick up our elementary K-5 students and deliver them, and this allows us for kind of some cohorting, contact tracing pieces that will be beneficial, in case we did have an outbreak. That we could isolate possibly just the one school and not cross-contaminate multiple schools.”

Meanwhile, other health precautions include temperature checks at the entry of all schools and on school buses. School restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected more frequently. Cafeteria tables will be disinfected between uses, while student desks will be sanitized between uses.

He said there’s a difference between disinfecting and sanitizing, as disinfecting is a higher standard.

“Student desks will be sanitized between every use and then they’ll be disinfected every afternoon and … we also placed two water bottle filling stations in every one of our schools to start the year,” he said.

“We’re going to go in and add more as needed based upon the layout of our individual schools. We also have water bottles that we’re giving every student. We have masks that we’re going to give every student.”

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