VIRUS - ANDY BESHEAR - AP 3-9-2020 1.jpeg

In this Tuesday, March 9, 2020 photo, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks at a press conference on the coronavirus and Kentucky's steps to combat the outbreak at the capitol in Frankfort, Ky. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via AP)

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Gov. Andy Beshear will hold another conference call with Kentucky school superintendents Thursday afternoon, potentially signaling a longer suspension of in-person classes as the state tries to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Beshear has hinted in recent days that an announcement regarding school closures will come soon, and his office asked the Kentucky Department of Education to set up another conference call with superintendents, according to Toni Konz Tatman, the department’s interim communications director.

The call is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, she told WDRB News.

The last time Beshear held a conference call with superintendents on March 20, he announced an extension of his original recommendation for schools to cease in-person classes for another two or three weeks depending on when districts took spring break.

Beshear said Tuesday that an announcement on schools would be coming soon given President Donald Trump's recent extension of federal public health guidelines to April 30.

"If we make a move, it would likely be similar to what the president did and extend it a couple more weeks," the governor said during his Tuesday COVID-19 update. 

Beshear said he wanted to ensure "that we still at least have the opportunity for kids to go back to school this year," though he conceded that classes may not reopen to in-person instruction for the rest of the 2019-20 school year.

"I do think it is more than in the realm of possibility that there won't be anymore in-person classes in school this year," he said Tuesday. "We've got to at least be prepared for it, and I know our superintendents have been making those preparations if that is the case."

He’s currently asked schools to keep their doors closed and transition to non-traditional instruction until April 20, though Kevin Brown, Kentucky’s interim education commissioner, said districts should prepare enough distance learning material to last through May 1.

Districts have adhered to Beshear’s guidance in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and Brown has said all are offering food service for students who are learning from home for an extended period of time.

Schools can also request as many non-traditional days as they need thanks to Senate Bill 177, which also allows districts to give employees as mandy days of emergency leave during the COVID-19 outbreak as determined by local school boards and request waivers from the state if they can’t hit the minimal 1,062 instructional hours by June 12.

Brown has given school districts blanket approval for 30 additional remote learning days, which are typically capped at 10 days.

At Jefferson County Public Schools, the district is taking requests from families who receive free or reduced-price lunch or have children in special education programs for Chromebooks. Kentucky’s largest district plans to distribute 25,000 Chromebooks as it transitions to non-traditional instruction next week.

Special needs households can also receive hotspots with unlimited data through a contract with T-Mobile that JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio announced Wednesday. More than 6,000 hotspots are available.

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