LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It has been nearly a year since the coronavirus forced Jefferson County Public Schools students out of their classrooms. And while it's still not clear when they will return, school administrators are preparing their buildings to safely resume in-person instruction.

When students arrive at school, each will get a temperature check and be directed to a hand sanitizing station before being seated at an assigned table to receive a pre-packaged breakfast.

Inside the classrooms, student desks are spread out and also numbered to help with contact tracing.

Laura Mullaney, principal at Gutermuth Elementary School, said just 60% of her students are expected to return for in-person classes, and she does not believe social distancing will be a problem.

“I think kids are used to social distancing to a degree now," she said. "It's become much more the norm than it has been in the past. I trust our kids completely to get that. I do.”

Similar preparations have been made at Central High School. Desks are socially-distanced, hallways are marked for one-way traffic, and the school will operate on staggered schedule so students are not all there at the same time.

About half the students are expected to return for in-person instruction.

“On any given day, we'll have about 300 students in the building, and this building will hold 1,200," Central Principal Raymond Green said. "So I feel very confident in our ability to social distance."

But what is uncertain is when — or if — students will return. The school board still has not decided.

“The best that I can do right now is prepare to come back,” Green said. “I want us back. I want to see our kids.” 

But the kids and their teachers will find schools that are much different than the ones they left nearly a year ago.

“We don't want school to start and then have to close again,” JCPS Health Manager Eva Stone said. “So I think that everybody will continue to pay attention to these measures that are going to help us prevent transmission. “

The JCPS board is expected to make a decision soon about reopening schools soon, but no meeting date has been set.

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