Bowling Green Independent Schools

J. Tyler Franklin

Masking requirements are staying in place for many Kentucky school districts, despite the General Assembly revoking a statewide mask mandate for school systems during a special legislative session last week.

Warren County Public Schools implemented a mask policy on Aug. 11 before Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order or the Kentucky Department of Education’s emergency regulation. The decision was legal under the school district’s authority, and is not affected by the General Assembly’s passage of SB 1, which returned the authrority to make masking decisions to local school boards.

In a special meeting Tuesday night, the Warren County Board of Education approved a recommendation from Superintendent Rob Clayton to extend the school system's univeral mask requirement through at least October.

“This will allow us the opportunity to monitor exposures related to fall break activities as our historical data reflects the increase in exposures and quarantines after extended breaks from school," Clayton said.


Rhonda J. Miller

As schools struggle to continue in-person learning as COVID-19 surges across the nation, one school district in southern Kentucky is reporting a decrease in the number of students and staff in quarantine two weeks after a mask mandate went into effect.


Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton said in a news conference Tuesday that the numbers are down substantially from the 1,800 students in quarantine last week.

“We’re at 834 students that are quarantined due to a potential contact exposure at school," Clayton said. "We do not have any staff that are quarantined due to a school contact. However, we have about 100 across the district that are required to quarantine."

warrencountyschools.org

The head of Warren County Public Schools is telling employees to be prepared for the possibility of a return to virtual learning.

There’s a large number of students in quarantine and many vacant staff positions across the system. 

Warren County School District spokeswoman Lauren Thurmond said the district currently has 1,649 students in quarantine. That's nine-percent of the student population.


Rhonda J. Miller

The time we're living in now might be thought of as “pandemic recovery.”

After 15 months of shutdowns, stress and isolation, Kentucky is open for business and there's a welcome return to social activities. 

Schools will be fully in-person for the new academic year in the fall.

But the anxiety many children experienced during the pandemic is not likely to be washed away in the water parks and swimming pools of summer. 

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with Tanner Steelman, a licensed clinical social worker who is mental health supervisor for Bowling Green City Schools


Sonja Byrd

School districts across Kentucky have to decide by June 1 if they will have a “do-over” year to give students a chance to make up for the academic losses caused by the changing schedules and virtual learning during the pandemic.  

Decisions are being made soon at two school districts in western Kentucky. 

The opportunity for a “do-over” year comes under Kentucky Senate Bill 128, officially called the Supplemental School Year Program, that was contained in a bill signed by Governor Andy Beshear in March.

Students had to request the do-over year by May 1. 


Sonja Byrd

Warren County Public Schools and Bowling Green Independent Schools are among many districts in Kentucky welcoming students back to more traditional in-person learning that begins this week.

But even with the extensive planning to keep students, teachers, and staff "Safe at School" for the increased in-person classes, Motber Nature has her own ideas and impacted schedules for some school districts.

Plans for this week’s in-person return to Warren County schools have been curtailed due to recent flooding. Professional development sessions were already scheduled for later this week. 

As school districts bring students back into the buildings, families continue to wrestle with concerns about COVID-19, as well as their children’s academic progress and social connections.  

Ana Studer

Educators across Kentucky, and the nation, are finding that the pandemic has caused a loss of academic progress, as students struggle with a roller coaster of schedules and remote learning.

Another major loss is the limitation, or suspension, of extracurricular activities.

The return of in-person learning in many Kentucky school districts may begin to make up for some of the gaps in social connection and academic progress. 

Teachers and students across Kentucky continue the monumental struggle to adapt to COVID-19 safety precautions.

But despite all the best intentions, the pandemic has blasted a hole in the social and academic structure of education. 


Edmonson County Schools

Students in Kentucky, and across the nation, are riding a roller coaster of in-person and virtual learning created by the pandemic.

The superintendent of Edmonson County Schools said his district is ready for the Jan. 4 reopening and changes scheduled to happen one week after that.

Edmonson County students will begin school on Jan. 4 with all remote instruction.  

That’s in line with the governor’s recommendation in case of a spike in COVID-19  cases after the holidays.  

Starting Jan.11, the district will return to the staggered schedule of in-person classes two days a week, for those who choose to be at school, and virtual learning  the other days. 


Facebook/Bowling Green Independent Schools

Educators across Kentucky, and the nation, are facing the challenge of keeping students engaged during virtual learning.

The Bowling Green Independent School District has staff members who reach out to make sure students stay connected during the pandemic.

“We have a lot of adults who are going out in the community every day, knocking on doors, tracking down students and families and trying to figure out where they’re living and why they’re not participating in virtual learning,” said Gary Fields, superintendent of the Bowling Green School District.


Owensboro Innovation Middle School

COVID-19 has caused many parents in Kentucky to lose their jobs or have their work hours cut back. The financial impact of the pandemic is adding homelessness to the challenge of virtual learning for some Owensboro students. 

Owensboro Innovation Middle School Youth Service Coordinator Amanda Hirtz said she’s working with three families who have suffered job losses during the pandemic, causing them to become homeless between March and August. 

Hirtz said students and families felt comfortable asking for help during these difficult times.


Ashley Allen

Warren County is in one of Kentucky’s “red zones” for COVID-19. The county has a high incidence rate of cases that state health officials now want school administrators to consider when planning in-person classes.

The Bowling Green Independent School District has announced that it will continue, through the end of the semester, on its hybrid schedule with students in a specified purple or gold group coming to class on alternating days.

To minimize the spread of the virus, the Bowling Green district also offers COVID-19 testing at the schools for students, staff or immediate family of school staff members.

Bowling Green city schools offer a rapid COVID-19 test with results in about 15-20 minutes for those who have symptoms of the virus within the last five days.


BGISD

Less than a week before the new school year starts, the superintendent of the Bowling Green Independent School District, Gary Fields, has tested positive for COVID-19. 

"On Friday, when I spoke to the Board of Education about returning to school, I said a reality of the current time is that positive cases of COVID-19 will occur and there will be times when students and staff are isolated or quarantined," Fields wrote in a Facebook post. "At the time of that statement, I did not realize how close that reality would be for me."

In a statement, Fields said he had an anti-body test on Thursday morning as a free service offered to all school district employees.  That afternoon, Fields was told he tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, but there wasn’t a need for him to isolate unless he developed symptoms.  He then received a nasal swab test, and on Monday evening, Fields says he learned the second test was positive.

Jae Foley FB

High school seniors in Kentucky are now facing the reality there won’t be prom, graduation ceremonies, and other rites of passage this year because of the coronavirus. 

Governor Andy Beshear canceled the remainder of the school year to in-person learning and other activities this week. 

Jae Foley, a senior at Bowling Green High School, says there’s one particular event she was looking forward to the most.

Becca Schimmel

School leaders in both Warren County and Bowling Green say they’re overwhelmed by the number of refugee and immigrant students filling their classrooms.

Superintendents came to the quartely meeting of the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky Thursday to voice their concerns and say they lack the resources to meet the basic needs of those students.

Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton said in many cases his system doesn’t have the resources or the time to properly educate students. He said refugees often enroll in school with little to no formal education. 


Warren County Public Schools

Warren County's newest elementary school that opens Aug. 8 is on the leading edge in both sustainability and tech curriculum. 

Jennings Creek Elementary will have ‘coding’ as part of the curriculum from kindergarten through sixth grade. Coding, which is writing the language for computer programs, will be taught on an age appropriate level, so students naturally expand this essential 21st Century skill.

Morgan Watson is a spokeswoman for Warren County Public Schools. She said there’s another advantage of having coding embedded in the elementary curriculum.

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