Yes, you read that correctly. Governor Beshear is encouraging school districts to be flexible in their plans to reopen for next school year, and this week, he outlined three possibilities to the Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Brown for what the timeline may look like.
One such possibility would involve an early start to the 2020-2021 school year, with schools opening in late July. From the article:
Brown says an early start could let districts begin the year with in-person instruction if a dip in COVID-19 cases permits, with the possibility of suspending in-person classes if cases spike in the fall.
Brown told the superintendents they might want to consider asking their local boards of education to approve multiple calendars to prepare for these different scenarios. He says districts should be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances near or after the beginning of the school year.
“We don’t know that any of this will occur, but we need in a time of a global pandemic to be prepared,” Brown said.
Anything is possible in 2020, I suppose. But any timeline for reopening will ultimately be determined by the virus, not the other way around.
If it’s safe to do so, a late July opening could allow teachers to begin building relationships with their students early on. With a second wave of coronavirus now being deemed “inevitable,” starting the school year early could prove beneficial if schools are forced to close again in the fall.
However, this just one of the three proposed timelines that Gov. Beshear suggested this week. A traditional opening around the beginning of August remains another possibility. And in the event that COVID-19 is still spreading significantly throughout the summer, a delayed start — “perhaps after Labor Day,” the proposal reads — presents a third option.
Regardless of the timeline, it looks increasingly doubtful that a return to in-person classes will mean a return to “normal” for students. And of course, any decisions about reopening schools will be determined by the hard data behind the coronavirus’ spread, not by wishful thinking.
Even still, district leaders are right to begin considering what social distancing will look like in a school environment. (European efforts are proving that it will be tough.) Could we see staggered groups of students or rotating shifts of teachers? Will students experience a blended model of some face-to-face instruction with continued distance learning?
There are no easy answers, and that’s why Gov. Beshear is saying that schools must be prepared for anything. What are your thoughts?