education

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.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky has surpassed 3,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and says the state is still likely in the “plateau” of the pandemic.

Beshear announced 102 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 3,050. He also reported 6 new deaths, for a total of 154.

The number is far lower than Sunday’s record high 273 cases, but Beshear said today’s number is likely higher due to some labs that process results being closed over the weekend.

For many young people, sheltering at home means missing milestones and public recognition of their achievements. This is especially true for seniors graduating from high school and college.

Kendall Smith, a high school senior who lives in Tallahassee, Fla., says her school has many traditions leading up to graduation. But this year things are very different.

Newton Parrish Elementary

With all schools in Kentucky shut down during the pandemic, one elementary school in Owensboro is a good example of how educators are developingnew procedures to get lessons to students. 

All of the 560 students at Newton Parrish Elementary get 10 days of printed lessons at a time. That’s to make sure even students who don’t have internet at home can keep up with their schoolwork.

Principal Steve Bratcher said after teachers prepare their lessons, instructional assistants copy them and place them in each classroom.

“And at that point, the teachers come back to school and put the first and last name on baggies, we bought Ziplock baggies, two-gallon baggies, and the teachers place those in the conference room, once they have everything bagged up, ready to go,” said Bratcher.

When schools closed in Fall Creek, Wis., because of the coronavirus, the district staff got an unusual message. Don't worry for now about assignments or quizzes, Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo told them. Instead, "I want you to call people. And I want you to ask them two questions: How are you doing? And do you need anything?"

Liz Schlemmer

The Kentucky state senate voted Wednesday night to confirm all but one of Gov. Andy Beshear’s 11 appointees for the Kentucky State Board of Education.

Senators voted not to confirm board chair David Karem, a former state lawmaker, and main driver behind the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. Under state law, appointees who are not confirmed cannot serve again for two years, so Beshear will have to find a replacement.

The state board of education has been a stage for political battles in recent years. When Beshear took office in December 2019, one of his first acts as governor was to dissolve the board of education, which was filled with members appointed by his predecessor, former Gov. Matt Bevin. He then reformed the board with all new members, who are still currently serving. The Senate had until Wednesday, the last day of session, to confirm Beshear’s appointments.

Beckett Gilmore

With the coronavirus forcing schools across Kentucky, and the nation, to shut down, educators are being pushed into new territory.

A husband and wife, both teachers in Owensboro Public Schools, are expanding the boundaries of the classroom to keep students engaged while they’re learning at home. Sarah and Joshua Sullivan are among thousands of teachers across the U.S. who are creating the new reality for education in this unusual time.

When it became clear that Owensboro Public Schools would close down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, sixth grade social studies teacher Joshua Sullivan said educators leaped into action. 

The school district actually set up Google Classroom to have special NTI classes,” said Sullivan, who teaches at Owensboro Middle School. 


Education leaders in Kentucky say any high school senior who was on track to graduate in May will still do so, despite the lengthy period of school closures brought on by the coronavirus.

The Kentucky Education Department's Education Continuation Task Force has been meeting to discuss how high school graduation requirements will be met for the Class of 2020. 

Local school districts have the option of waiving any additional graduation requirements beyond the 22 credits required by the state.  School systems could also choose to eliminate elective requirements and lower the number of required credits to 15.

Mason Stone FB

The coronavirus is making a lot of students anxious to see the pandemic, and home quarantines, come to an end. High school seniors, especially, are missing out on some rites of passage. 

The Class of 2020 has unwantedly become the Class of COVID-19. Eighteen-year-old Kallie Wood attends Bowling Green High School.  She realizes there will be no sports, prom, or senior trip to New York City.

“We were looking forward to going and seeing all the sights in New York," Wood told WKU Public Radio. "I’ve never been to New York so I was looking forward to it, and I was looking forward to spending one last trip with my friends and teachers.”


Owensboro Public Schools

The board of Owensboro Public Schools has named a new superintendent. 

Matthew Constant has been serving as interim superintendent since Nick Brake resigned from that position at the end of December.

Constant has 25 years of experience in public education. He began working in Owensboro Public Schools in 2011 and has served as assistant superintendent and chief academic officer.

In naming him superintendent the school board said, "Constant has led the district through this unprecedented time as the country battles the coronavirus, demonstrating composure, impeccable leadship and transparency with staff and families throughout the district closure."

Creative Commons

The weeks of standardized tests Kentucky schools spend all year preparing are being canceled. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) says the federal government will grant the state’s request to cancel testing for the 2019-2020 school year because of closures and other challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Kentucky Department of Education has been informed by the U.S. Department of Education that we meet the requirements for the waiver of assessment & accountability for the 2019-20 school year and that formal approval is forthcoming. As a result, we are canceling the administration of 2020 K-PREP,” KDE spokeswoman Toni Konz Tatman wrote in an emailed statement.

Rhonda J. Miller

With schools closed across Kentucky, Warren County is among many districts making sure students get their breakfast and lunch while life is turned upside down because of coronavirus.

Many school bus drivers are delivering food to neighborhoods and trying to make life better during this global crisis.

Warren County school bus drivers Marvin Beresford and Ed Swinney are a team bringing meals to students while schools are closed.

The bus had coolers filled with bag lunches on Tuesday that included milk, a ham sandwich, an apple, and fresh carrots. 

Beresford, who wore gloves in line with safety precautions, said this is a little different than their usual job.


Arts for All Kentucky

The response to the coronavirus has caused closing of schools and community organizations across the state, including Arts for All Kentucky.

It’s a statewide organization based in Bowling Green that sponsors art programs for children, youth, and adults with disabilities. 

One project in suspension is the Side by Side program based at the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University that partners children with disabilities with a local artist. 

Arts for All Kentucky Director Delaire Rowe said it’s one of the many programs in limbo.

Bowling Green Independent Schools

A number of school districts are heeding Governor Andy Beshear’s request to shut down for at least two weeks starting Monday.

Beshear made the recommendation Thursday as a response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

Beshear is asking for all schools—public and private—to close for a minimum of two weeks.

Kentucky’s two largest school districts, Jefferson and Fayette, announced last night they would be closed.

Some of the other county school systems that have also announced they will close are Barren, Daviess, Hardin, Larue, Pulaski, and Warren.

Flickr/Creative Commons/BES Photos

 Gov. Andy Beshear recommended closing all schools across the state – public and private – to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He’s asking schools to close Monday, and stay closed for at least two weeks.

“This is a big but necessary step,” Beshear said at a press conference Thursday evening.

Beshear joins the governors of Ohio and Maryland in calling for statewide school closures. He said while early research on COVID-19 suggests the virus is not particularly dangerous to children, young people can still catch and transmit the virus to more vulnerable people, like the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

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