It has been approximately six weeks since students in the Adair County School District have been attending classes at their respective schools. With COVID-19 numbers rising, Gov. Andy Beshear directed all educational facilities to go to virtual learning.
On Monday, Jan. 11, Adair County students will take a step toward getting things back to normal as they are scheduled to attend in-person classes for the remainder of the school year.
“Things are looking pretty good right now. We’re excited about getting the kids back,” said Adair County Superintendent Dr. Pam Stephens. “The schools are calling every student’s home to find out if they will be returning face to face or continuing with the virtual option.
“The virtual option is going to stay out there for Adair County for the remainder of the school year. I don’t see that changing at all because we want to give people options. We know we can educate the kids better when they’re here, but we also understand the fear factor.”
Stephens said the plan for returning to class would have high school students attending four days a week with students at the primary center, the elementary school and the middle school using the hybrid plan. Students there will go either Monday and Thursday or Tuesday or Friday.
She said part of the reasoning behind the move is the student numbers at the high school are low enough that classes can be social distanced with relative ease. The primary and elementary students’ attendance numbers are up, and the size of classrooms at the middle school do not allow enough room for social distancing a large group of students.
That plan suits Robyn Mantooth, a freshman reading and English teacher at the high school, just fine.
“The virtual teaching plan is new so it has definitely been challenging, but with that you just have to rise up to the challenge,” said Mantooth. “The reason why I even became a teacher was because of that one-on-one with the students. I am very excited to see the students coming back, a little cautious, too. With Covid numbers on the rise, I want to see them, but I know we need to be cautious.”
Stephens said school officials are also going to make in-class work more along the lines of how school typically is.
“We know our kids have lost a lot,” Stephens said. “We’re already looking at a different version of a summer school program, possibly. We’re looking to the future, but we’ve planned for the current.
“We know we can cover more material when we are sitting looking at students face to face. We’re not going to slow down the students that are coming face to face (by having virtual and in-person students together). We’re not going to hold anyone back.”
Mantooth said she’s wondering how many students she will have on Monday and how she will be able to accommodate everyone while making sure she and the students follow safety protocol.
“When students arrive in the classroom, I do not tell them to get on the Chrome Book and that I have a video for them to watch. I teach them at the board,” she said. “I hope I can still teach them the way they need to be taught. I also want to be able to meet their emotional needs, too.
“I am ready to make it fun in the classroom, but it is not a one way street. I need the kids to be responsive. I need them to be open-minded and talk back with me. It is how I have always taught.”
By Scott Wilson