CORBIN — Students who go to school in the Corbin Independent School District will return to in-person classes on Wednesday, August 26. There are several changes within the upcoming year that students and parents need to be aware.

Corbin Board of Education Chair Kim Croley said the district is front loading education. She also mentioned there wouldn’t be a typical fall break this year.

“There are two days set as make up days and if we’ve not had a run of illness and had to do anything different, we will probably take those two days,” said Croley in regards to days for fall break. “If we’ve had a lot of illness, we will keep going to school.”

There are many new things for students, staff and parents to be aware of as the new year arrives, one of those being an extended school day.

“We’re extending the school day by 35 minutes every day,” said Croley.

The district sent emails to parents explaining some of this information as well as how they determined it. Developing this initial fall memo required the school district to draw on the perspectives of both the educational and medical communities, the email read. The process included a close review of guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), Kentucky Healthy at School guidelines, Kentucky Education Continuation Task Force, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Kentucky Department of Public Health, Team Kentucky Guidance on Safety Expectations and Best Practices for Kentucky Schools (“Team KY Guide”), Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the MA COVID-19 Command Center’s Medical Advisory Board.

The district will carefully monitor the data in the coming weeks and months. Schools must be prepared to be flexible and ready to pivot if circumstances change significantly. For this reason, schools must plan not only for in-person learning, but also hybrid learning models (in which students learn in-person for some of the time and remotely for some of the time), and full remote learning. Remote learning may be a necessary option in the fall for some students who are unable to return to school due to underlying medical conditions and potentially for all students if COVID-19 forces widespread school closures in the future.

“What we’re hoping, by front loading all this education in the first semester is that we will be able to catch kids up well and have them moving along well,” added Croley. “We know in Kentucky that our big flu spike is late January. The symptoms of flu and mild COVID look the same.”

Croley said the idea is to get through the fall semester without illness.

Families also play a critical role in supporting the new culture of health and safety that each school must establish.

One very important thing that Croley asks parents and guardians to start doing in preparation for the school year is to have children practice wearing masks so they can begin to get familiar with the feel of them on their face. All students are asked to wear a mask on the bus. Kindergarten students do not have to wear a mask during school hours but do need to wear one on the bus.

Families can also help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in their school communities by checking their children daily for any COVID-19 symptoms and keeping them home from school if they are sick or have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

To the extent possible, desks will be spaced six feet apart (but no fewer than three feet apart) and facing the same direction. Schools will seek to maximize physical distance between desks within their physical and operational constraints.

Students will also have their temperature checked upon entry into school each day.

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