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Plans for how the upcoming school year will operate is still up in the air, but questions and suggestions are still being made.

Laurel County Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett said there have been multiple suggestions from state education officials, but no concrete plan for how the 2020-2021 school year will begin have been determined.

"We're taking our questions to KDE (Kentucky Department of Education) but we've not received a clear guide to how we will open," Bennett told school board members during Monday's bi-monthly meeting. "We still don't know if we will have in-person classes."

Bennett said there have been "some models" for conducting classes but those ideas are not feasible for some school districts.

"There are plans for alternating days and alternating students, but there are some impractical obstacles in those," he said. "We're just waiting on the recommendations from KDE."

The local school districts closed on March 13 due to the COVID-19 outbreak that emphasized social distancing and "healthy at home" procedures. The remainder of the 2019-2020 school year was conducted through online instruction and Home Correspondence Instruction (HCI).

But in the midst of the abrupt and unexpected changes in the planned school year, Bennett said there was at least one positive aspect to the situation - the district can now afford a new school bus that was saved when regular classes and bus runs were cancelled.

"We looked at this before - to purchase another Special Ed bus," Bennett told board members. "But now through some savings from the shutdown, we can get it."

Bennett said the new bus would cost around $94,000 and would give the school district four buses to use for rotation when needed.

Two new positions were also approved, with those being to re-create a school nurse position at Hazel Green Elementary and an LBD teacher at Bush Elementary.

In other actions, board members approved:

• Interagency agreement between school district and Department of Juvenile Justice for 2020-2021 school year;

• Fundraiser requests for athletic programs must be agreed by coach/sponsor in accordance with KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association), KDE, CDC and state and local health departments to ensure that COVID-19 safety measures are used;

• Out of state travel requests must also adhere to KHSAA, KDE, CDC, state/local health department, and Laurel County School District policies for coaches and team members;

• Memorandum of agreement with Western Kentucky University for student teachers during the upcoming school year;

• Updated Laurel County Certified Personnel evaluation plan to include Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) to evaluate principals, assistant principals, and district certified staff for the upcoming school year;

• Service agreements with Interpreting Service of the Commonwealth LLC, Central Kentucky Interpreter Inc., Orientation and Mobility Services with Karen White and Heather Elza, speech/language pathologist.

The Laurel County Board of Education meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Meetings are held in the Central Office and are broadcast to the public in the G.C. Garland Building conference room in order to comply with social distancing and large group gatherings recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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