Paris Independent Schools planning on full in-person classes soon
PARIS, Ky. (WKYT) -As cases of COVID-19 continue to decline and more Kentucky teachers get fully vaccinated, the possibility of re-opening schools back up fully, is more of a reality.
Governor Andy Beshear has said we can’t take a one size fits all approach for every district when it comes going back to in-person learning.
Students in the Paris Independent School district returned to an in-person hybrid model in early January and they hope to be back to five-day weeks very soon.
WKYT’s Amber Philpott got an inside look at the district’s ever-changing lesson plan at keeping students in the classroom.
“We have two plus eight,” said a teacher.
Students are learning again inside Paris Elementary.
There are the traditional subjects, but then there have been the countless lessons in changing and adapting during a pandemic.
“We’ve done a variety of different models throughout the year, of course we started virtually like most everyone else. We went to 60% in person for a few weeks and we went to over 80% in person for a few weeks,” said Superintendent Stephen McCauley.
Superintendent Stephen McCauley is charged with overseeing the small district, just shy of about 800 students in Pre-K to 12 grade.
The decision to return to in-person learning wasn’t taken lightly in this district.
“The mental health of our students and our staff is crucial and that’s what we see when we are able to bring our kids back in the building, how much of an impact them seeing their teachers they missed and love, their friends even from a distance,” said McCauley.
Students like seven-year-old Haley Adams.
“I’m happy I get to see the other teachers and I’m happy I get to see my principal,” said Haley Adams.
She and her classmates, now learning to do school a little different these days.
“Children are always more adaptive than adults, they are disposition wise ready to do whatever we asked them to when they come, “said Keith Griesser, Paris Elementary School Principal.
Everywhere you turn there is a reminder that a pandemic is still very much a part of the school day.
With students and teachers always masked up and spread out it means doing traditional class work a little different.
Learning in this school, no matter how it looks is the end game.
“So we feel very much a pressure to figure out how to help these kids in a time when it’s very different than normal, “said Keith Griesser, Principal.
Bringing students back means thinking outside the box when it comes to trying to combat COVID-19.
Every available space is utilized to spread students out, the gym serves now as an extension of the cafeteria.
Behind the scenes, sanitizing is always happening and the district hiring a COVID specialist to help.
“They do some things on the bus in the morning to make sure the buses are sanitized and the temperatures are taken before the kids get here. They come here to the building and wipe down door handles, doors in high traffic areas,” said Griesser.
It’s an added measure, with an added price tag.
“The cost has been significant, we have used federal dollars to help offset some of that and also just dollars in house and everyone is just doing a little extra,” said McCauley.
The district has asked for and been approved more money to hire additional personnel that will help with social distancing once students return full time, which McCauley says could be soon.
“February 19 our staff is getting our second round of the vaccine, so on February 22 our targeted start date for five days a week of instruction will begin,” said McCauley.
In the meantime the focus on education remains no matter the schedule high school seniors are still taking college level classes.
After school programs giving students a creative outlet are also still happening.
“Education is never going to look the same again, there are going to be a lot of opportunities for kids who weren’t there before and teachers have a lot of tools they didn’t have before,” said Griesser.
The Paris Independent School district is not alone in the challenges it faces, but perhaps in the end everyone is learning together.
“I think it’s something we will build upon and look back on as wow that was really hard, but we really stepped up and did what’s best for kids,” said McCauley.
While Paris Independent Schools has its sights set on a full in-person return on February 22, that could always change.
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