With Grayson County Schools opting to begin the school year outside of the classroom, the decision has proven challenging for many.

Several parents and grandparents of students in the district attended Thursday night’s Grayson County School Board meeting to share their concerns and struggles with virtual learning and non-traditional instruction (NTI).

Kari Ray, a representative of both the Grayson County Middle School and Caneyville Elementary School site-based councils, opened the discussion and said that some parents feel as if their input has had little to no influence on the decisions made by the school board in regards to how the school year should begin.

Additionally, she said many parents and grandparents are struggling with the technological requirements for students to learn from home and are in need of support.

According to Ray, many families were unaware that the district’s limited number of Google Chromebooks would result in the issue of some households’ having to share one with multiple students in the home and those students’ subsequently falling behind due to not having as much time to use it.

With a brief window for parents and guardians to receive training on the technological aspect of the virtual academy and non-traditional instruction, Ray said, many parents feel they were ill-prepared.

Catherine Newton, a Caneyville Elementary School parent, then shared comments she received on a petition she recently circulated on the subject.

One comment said there was “no way” students are learning what they need to be from remote learning, and another said that many students are struggling to retain information and becoming frustrated to the point of tears with their work, Newton said.

Another comment expressed a parent’s concern that it is unfair to have older students have to help younger students with their work while parents/guardians are away from home at work, according to Newton.

“Our kids desperately need in-person instruction,” Newton said.

Pamela Regester, a grandparent raising her grandchild, said that COVID-19 “is not going to go away,” and the community and educational leaders must learn how to get through the situation. She also noted that other counties with higher rates of positive cases chose to commence with in-person classes, and Grayson County schools must move forward and resolve the educational issues of their children, as well.

Grayson County Schools Superintendent Doug Robinson said he appreciates the input of the parents in attendance Thursday and understands their frustration and concerns.

With no good solution available, Robinson said, the district is asking parents to continue to be patient as the current plan is to have students return to in-person classes on an A/B schedule on Sept. 28.

“I promise you, this board wants to get your kids back in school,” he said.

To parents, grandparents, and students struggling to keep up with the workload, Robinson assured them that, if they contact their schools to discuss their issues, the schools will work with them and provide leeway on deadlines.

School Board Vice Chair Valeria Hayes said that the pandemic has been hard on everyone, but noted that the school districts that have already returned to in-person classes did so against the recommendations of the Kentucky Department of Education.

Additionally, School Board member Brett Abney said he and the board support the superintendent “100%.”

“This is a pandemic that nobody’s dealt with (before),” said Robinson.

Robinson also addressed a rumor that the state is pushing for students to not return to in-person classes until after Christmas, and said that, as of Thursday’s meeting, he had heard no discussions about doing so.

Additionally, Robinson said that the requirement for students to wear masks while in school will not apply to students in kindergarten and below, but the district will encourage them.

He also reminded parents and guardians that students can get medical waivers for masks.

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