While the official school start day for McLean County students is currently set for Aug. 5, Superintendent Tommy Burrough said that date is likely to change and may do so on short notice.

During recent board of education meetings, Burrough said the district, and all districts state-wide for that matter, are trying to keep up with almost daily changes for reopening plans to help keep a safe and healthy learning environment for students while also allowing for in-person instruction.

He said while changing the start date for later in August is likely, he recommended to the board of education to wait on changing it since guidance from the state and health department is changing so rapidly.

“Truthfully, I don’t see us starting Aug. 5. I think things are going to be changing so much in the timing. Most districts now are looking to go Aug. 26th,” Burrough said.

One issue with starting Aug. 26, he said, was that teachers would be behind on instructional hours and would have eight days left to make up for by the end of the school year for payroll purposes.

Other issues the district is struggling with are planning for non-traditional instruction days and virtual learning, which Burrough said would certainly take place during the upcoming school year. He said, however, that there will be some form of in-person instruction throughout the school year, he is just not sure exactly what it will look like.

Another difficulty Burrough addressed was transportation for students. While students will still be able to utilize buses, he said they will be required to wear masks and will need to have their temperature taken and recorded. He said this will likely lead to the district hiring monitors for each bus to ensure regulations are followed, which could cost approximately $365,000.

“This is going to cost the district an arm and a leg to have school,” Burrough said. “These are the plans we’re having to think about and I just wanted to give you an idea … nobody knows what it’s going to look like when we start because it changes every day.”

Burrough said the district also had its reopening plan for sports and fine arts approved by the health department, but practices will have restrictions in place for “high-touch” sports like basketball, football and cheerleading that require either regular or close contact with other students, or equipment that is touched or passed between multiple students.

Marching band, he said, would be particularly difficult since they are required to keep 10 feet of distance between students due to blowing into instruments that could potentially spread germs at a further distance.

Burrough also mentioned that students whose parents decide to keep their children out of school for in-person instruction, opting instead for virtual instruction, will not be able to participate in extracurricular activities.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@mcleannews.com, 270-691-7360

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