Harlan schools adjust to COVID-19 precautions

Harlan school districts recently adjusted their schedules to help keep students healthy and learning with the introduction of COVID-19 Distance Learning (CDL) Days. Designed as a digital education tool, CDL Days are much like NTI Days used to take advantage of social distancing — decreasing the spread of COVID-19 in the learning community.

“Having utilized NTI/Dragon Days since its inception several years ago, we have a model for distance learning that our staff and families are familiar with and that will proven helpful during this time,” said Harlan Independent Superintendent C.D. Morton.

Morton said the schools are following all CDC’s guidelines to help keep the buildings clean. He added they are also working to limit the number of people coming into facilities and eliminating large-group gatherings.

“While our buildings will remain open, we are planning to stagger our staffing assignments to help limit potential for exposure for our employees,” Morton said. “We have put a lot of thought into how to balance this unprecedented situation. Being sensitive to the needs and expectations of students and employees is at the heart of every decision.

“Based on the current scenario, we are very fortunate that our school calendar enables us to limit the number of NTI/Dragon Days we will have to utilize over this next three-week period. Utilizing consecutive NTI/Dragon Days is a real challenge for both teachers and students. Currently, we anticipate only using a total six (6) NIT/Dragon Days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. We will be reaching out to families and students each day to make sure students remain as engaged as possible. If this break is extended, the options moving forward will be very limited.”

Harlan County Superintendent Brent Roark explained the Harlan County School District will be observing NTI Days 8, 9 and 10 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (March 16-18). After the NTI Days, the school system will be transitioning to the CDL Days on Thursday and Friday (March 19 and 20), continuing the following week through March 27.

“Teachers and staff will be at their respective schools to assist students with NTI assignments. Teachers will be available through phone, email and other communications utilized previously for NTI Days,” Roark said.

He added the recommended school closure by Governor Andy Beshear is a challenge as the district strives to continue services to students as much as possible. Roark said he encourages anyone with questions to contact your child’s school and teachers and monitor the district’s Facebook page (Harlan County Public Schools) for updated information regarding the NTI/CDL Days.

The two school districts also moved to provide meals to students under 18 across the county on Monday through the use of schools buses. Families were able to meet the buses at their regular bus stops or drive to the schools to pick up meals for their students.

“This morning I worked along side our classroom aides, cafe staff and bus drivers to help deliver breakfast across our community. The cooperation has been phenomenal and it is a service I am thankful we are able to provide,” Morton said.

Morton said his staff and other district educators are working together to assist their students in any way possible, challenging workers to “serve, lead and love in every situation.”

“To do that, we are looking for ways that we can serve those around us, while providing leadership that our families and communities expect and to extend as much grace and love as possible to every student and family we come in contact with. In spite of the circumstances, we live and work in a community full of people who have devoted their lives to helping others.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is a developing story and will continue to be posted and updated as a way to keep the public informed. For more information on the virus in Kentucky, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov.