Woodford Christian plans to begin school year in person
If directives from the state do not change its plans, Woodford Christian School will open the 2020-21 school year with in-person instruction Thursday, Aug. 13, according to Principal Cara Meadows. One of the factors in that decision was having a small student population of around 50, Meadows said. She said class sizes are being capped at 12 students – instead of the typical 15 – to ensure social distancing guidelines can be followed so they do not have to wear masks in class. Also, students will remain in one class, and classes will not be combined at any point during the school day. Students will go out for recess on the playground (with equipment sanitized between groups), and teachers will be encouraged to take their class outside for as much learning as possible, Meadows said. A wooded area in the rear of the WCS property provides a lot of shade and an opportunity for students to safely explore the outdoors in a “natural playground,” she added. “I’m encouraging them to teach outside,” said Meadows. “Go outside and do science. Go outside and do reading. So that we’re not enclosed in … rooms all the time because the larger risk (of being exposed to COVID-19) is when you are in an enclosed area.” She said parents who send their children to a private school prefer in-person instruction unless they choose home school instead. She acknowledged some WCS parents have already chosen that option for their kids. Meadows said she wrote the guidelines for a five-day-a-week, in-person reopening at WCS after listening to discussions involving the state Department of Public Education, the state Department of Public Health and school superintendents, and talking to leaders of other Christian schools and seeking guidance from the Association of Christian Schools International. She also reached out to Woodford County Health Department for additional information, she added. While the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has been on the rise in Kentucky recently, “I still think it’s a good plan and it’s still safe. However, what I can’t control is what the governor chooses to do; if he does a statewide (shutdown of schools) mandate,” said Meadows. She said her teachers are ready to get back in class, and they’re comfortable with the plan to return to in-person instruction at WCS. “I think that they will be very disappointed if we have to start the year with our NTI (non-traditional instruction) procedure instead of in-person,” she said. Because a lot of her teachers are also WCS parents, they are also ready for their children to be back with their classmates and friends, Meadows said. “I’m just very concerned about the social and emotional well-being of our kids – in addition to the academic (needs),” she explained. “… We are definitely … (about the) whole kid, the whole student and that includes the academic … the emotional, the social, the mental and spiritual (needs).” Meadows said she has seen the toll taken on students and parents when schools were closed to in-person instruction last spring. Her daughter “was devastated” when Franklin County’s school board made a decision to go entirely virtual during the first six weeks of school this year, she said. “I don’t want to minimize what’s going on,” Meadows said. “However, I do think it’s more than just the physical safety of everybody that we have to consider.” In the end, Meadows said she can only do what’s best for Woodford Christian School, which has a much smaller student population than public schools.