September 4, 2020
Dear Morgan County School Community,
I would like to wish everyone a SAFE and ENJOYABLE Labor Day Weekend, and share a few thoughts with each of you as we complete our first full week of instruction for the 2020 – 2021 school year. All the hard work, planning, and professional development training that our staff and administrators have completed since early May has resulted in a few exceptionalthings directly impacting our students in positive ways.
1. Chromebooks were ordered for every student in Morgan County. We have effectively achieved our board’s vision of becoming a true 1 to 1 school system (a computerdevice for every student).
2. Our schools were able to issue those devices to the students during registration prior to August 26th.
3. We have worked tirelessly with community partners to identify households without internet service and provide internet access to every household across Morgan County via direct hook-up, deployment of numerous “Hotspots” across the county, and or the installation of new access points at each school site.
4. We have successfully secured, stockpiled and distributed the needed PPE such as gloves, masks, face shields, digital thermometers, etc. not to mention the pallets of cleaning supplies and disinfectants, to help ensure that we keep our students, staff, and community safe once we reopen.
5. We have continued Food Service meals to households across the district since the pandemic began in mid-March.
6. We have conducted countless hours of training and professional development with teachers and support staffon the Google Platform in preparation for online instruction.
7. We have more dual credit courses and work-based cooperative experiences to offer our high school students this year.
8. We have worked tirelessly to identify gaps due to school closures last spring and to ensure standards missed are being addressed in the 2020-2021 curriculum.
9. We have hired Digital Coaches at each school to ensure our staff is trained on the most up to date technology practices.
10. We have established a “Healthy at School, Healthy at Work” officer at each school site to ensure the safety of each student and staff member.
A brief chronology of events over the last month:
On July 23, 2020 at 9:00am the Morgan County Board of Education conducted a special called meeting to discuss plans for re-opening schools this fall. The board heard reports from each of the Task Force Committee Chairs and building principals. The unanimous recommendation was to postpone the start of in-person instruction which was set to begin August 26th, for a few weeks, until such time that we could ensure the safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and our community.
On July 27, 2020, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Governor’s office announced the delay of the start of in-person instruction until “on or after” August 17, 2020. Then on August 10th Superintendents across the commonwealth received a very direct letter from the Commissioner of Education, stating “the Governor had strongly suggested that all of the state’s 171 school districts delay resuming in-person instruction until at least the week of September 28, 2020”. We were cautioned then that any district failing to abide by the Governor’s recommendation were advised that, “They can expect to receive a call from state health and education officials”.
During this time, school districts across the state assumed that since schools were closed to in-person classes until the September 28th that all sporting events would be postponed as well. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, athletics in the state of Kentucky are governed by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA). They decided to move forward with their three-tiered plan to begin workouts on August 24, 2020 and to proceed with games beginning on the 7th of September. Neither the Governor of Kentucky, The Commissioner of Athletics; nor the Kentucky Board of Education & Interim Commissioner, sought to delay, postpone,or cancel fall sports. Morgan County Schools, like nearly every school district in the state had little choice but to follow suit. Should we forbid our students from participating, while every district in Eastern KY is actively engaged, would be unacceptable.
Hearing from several community members and parents I understand your concerns and I am aware of why you question the decision to participate in fall sports while not permitting in-person instruction. I have those same concerns.
Though I have agreed from the start that sports should be postponed until we can get students back in school, this is not how it has played out; however punishing our students by not allowing them to participate (with parental permission) would be wrong. It is our hope that our athletic teams will provide us the insight to realize that we can function within this pandemic and exercise the command and control necessary through rigid safety requirements, precautions, and best practices to allow us the ability to Re-Open Schools to in-person instruction after the September 28th shutdown. It is my hope that we can have our students, whose parents choose to send them, back to in-personinstruction by early October. Please realize that our sports programs are leading that effort and demonstrating that very determination and desire we all long for.
In closing, I ask for the unified support of this community, at a time unlike any other in our history. The Morgan County Community has always supported its children, let us work together now to support them through every aspect of school life and get our children back in the classrooms. Realistically, our sports programs may be the catalyst that helps make this happen.
C. Thomas Potter II
Morgan County Schools