Pamela Coman’s daughter was looking forward to her senior year in high school.
She is one class away from graduation and, as a student of Indian U, she could choose a high school course or move on to a college course.
She originally planned to stay at the Adair County High School, but now she has decided to change direction.
“She didn’t get a junior prom. I don’t know that she will get a senior prom,” Coman said.
Like so many other Adair County families, Coman is trying to find the best fit for her family after the school district eliminated plans for in-person classes. The change came following a recommendation from Gov. Andy Beshear, who said he based his decision on the number of positive COVID-19 cases across Kentucky.
Beshear made his announcement last week, and the school district has worked fervently since then to change direction. Originally, 70 percent of the district’s students were set to head to the classroom on Monday. Now, all students are expected to participate in virtual learning.
Coman now faces the reality of two students needing internet access when their internet is spotty at best.
“If they are going to do online classes, it is going to drop out,” she said. “I don’t have enough internet for both of them at the same time.”
Another mother and her husband, both who work outside the home, have made the difficult decision to leave their daughter, who is in eighth grade, at home alone.
“Luckily, I have a boss who would allow for my child to come to work. However, for my child, I don’t think her coming to work will help her,” she said. “What we do is very fast paced, and there’s always chatter going on. There is no way, in my opinion, that my daughter will be able to fully focus on her academics with all that chatter going on.”
“So the only option that I have left is to let my daughter do school work from home, by herself,” she said.
The Community Voice is not identifying anyone who is leaving children at home alone to protect the safety of those children.
Kaci Humphress and her husband Daniel have enrolled their son, who is in kindergarten, into a homeschooling program.
“I have had to shift my work schedule to take off a day during the week, lower my hours during workdays and begin working on Saturdays in order to keep up with my workload,” said Humphress. Humphress is a self-employed hair stylist at House of Styles Salon and Massage. They made the decision early on, when the school district was offering virtual or in-person options, feeling that the homeschooling option provided them a schedule they could work with.
“We knew we had to have a solid plan; something we could rely on,” Humphress said.
The virtual option did not work for them because of the lack of quality internet. For in-person classes, they were concerned about the consequences if their son was exposed to COVID-19. Aside from the economic factor involved in quarantining, they rely on grandparents for help with their children and did not want to put them at risk.
“This is solely what swayed our decision to home school our son. It is definitely not convenient for the working family but we are motivated to do the absolute best we can in order for him to excel in all subject areas,” Humphress said. “When someone asks me how it’s going, I tell them it’s like having a second full time job. It is the hardest job I’ve ever had, the most entertaining when those gears are turning but not quite on track, and also the most rewarding when he’s having a ‘light bulb’ moment and is finally getting it.”
Andrea Patterson has four children of school age, the youngest in first grade and the oldest in ninth grade.
She and her fiancé are concerned about access to internet, paying insurance fees for Chromebooks, and being able to pick up school food.
“I’m lost; I’m confused,” Patterson said Tuesday, hoping that a meeting with a teacher later in the day would help resolve some of her concerns.
Patterson said they have satellite internet, which only provides enough broadband for one computer to access at a time.
Even though virtual education has its challenges, Patterson said they had chosen to go that route when the school district gave an option. She and her fiancé are autoimmune compromised and they did not want to risk potential exposure by having their children in a classroom.
She also has a 2019 graduate in the house, so the opportunity to receive food through the school district would be helpful for the family financially. As of Tuesday, she did not think they would be able to get the food, however, since they have one vehicle and her fiancé uses it to get to work.
The school district has set up various sites across the county where food can be picked up at certain times. That schedule does not work for Patterson.
Bridget Compton has a son in the eighth grade and another who is a junior in high school. For her, access to internet is a major issue.
“We live so far out in the county, some days you have a signal, some days you don’t,” she said.
Compton was also waiting to see what options the district offered since her sons would not be able to go online at specific times of the day.
“The whole virtual online classes is going to be a failure,” she predicted.
By Sharon Burton