The Elizabethtown Independent Schools Board of Education held a two-and-a-half-hour special board meeting Monday to discuss plans for instruction next school year.

Jon Ballard, current E’town superintendent, said the district has been contemplating and discussing nearly every plan and detail for months.

“We’re prepared for whatever the board decides,” Ballard said.

Kelli Bush, the next district superintendent, not only discussed the three back-to-schools introduced at last week’s meeting, but also talked about a fourth option to the board.

In this fourth plan, the schools would operate in two phases.

The first phase would begin on the current school start date of Aug. 25, but with all students doing online instruction. However, students who may need support from school-based services will still be able to attend school if need be.

Once the fist phase ends on Sept. 11, there will be a re-evaluation and families will be able to decide on whether or not they’d like their students to attend in-person classes or keep doing the online academy.

Bush said there are several advantages to this plan including:

• Allows students to become familiar with the remote learning platform.

• Keeps the beginning of the year emphasis on instruction and building a positive classroom community without the worry of health and safety.

• Allows time for the current COVID-19 spike to peak and downturn.

• Gives all students and families the opportunity to observe and experience differences between the Panther Online Academy and NTI.

• Provides time for schools to work out changes that will be necessary to staffing assignments, schedules and classes in order to provide both in-person and online services.

• Gives additional time to secure needed numbers of Personal Protective Equipment and cleaning supplies.

• Gives teachers and staff the chance to work out issues in mitigation procedures with fewer students in the building.

Members of the board went back forth on all the different plans. Eventually, the board voted to discuss the pros and cons of Plan 1 and the fourth plan.

Matthew Wyatt, board member, said he was worried about coming into the schools too soon due to spikes of COVID-19 cases in the community.

Ultimately, the board decided on the phase-in plan, at a 4 to 1 vote.

Ballard asks of parents to be patient and compassionate, and make this a positive learning experience for students.

“I want the parents to know that if this is not your preference ... we understand that,” said Tony Kuklinski, board chair. “But i want you to understand that this district is committed to your students.”

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1747 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.

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