Hardin County School Board Defies Beshear Recommendation on In-Person Classes
On the same day that Kentucky hit a new record for the number of COVID-19 cases, the Hardin County Board of Education voted Wednesday evening to proceed with in-person classes.
The school district, with 14,600 students, is planning to begin the academic year on Aug. 24 by offering traditional classroom instruction, as well as a virtual academy. That was the district’s original plan before Gov. Andy Beshear advised districts to postpone in-person classes until Sept. 28.
Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Brown has said school systems could face a state shutdown if they defied the governor’s recommendation. John Wright, Director of Public Relations for Hardin County schools, says the board’s 4-1 decision reflected what most families in the district wanted.
“It was overwhelming, and that’s why they felt their constituency, the people who elect them and the people whom they represent, that’s what they preferred to happen," Wright told WKU Public Radio.
About 80 percent of students had registered for in-person classes versus online instruction.
According to the Kentucky Department of Education, school districts starting in-person classes before the end of September could be shut down by Gov. Beshear, the state Department for Public Health, or the state Board of Education.
Beshear has said his recommendation is based on Kentucky’s high rate of positive coronavirus cases, and the fact that more children are testing positive. Critics say the state is infringing on local decision-making.