What is Pendleton County Schools plan for opening school in fall?


Superintendent Joe Buerkley unveiled a plan to the Board of Education on Monday night.

  • Southern Elementary
    Southern Elementary
Small Image
The administrative staff has been working hard and analyzing guidelines throughout the summer for the best and safest start for students.

Pendleton County Schools Superintendent Joe Buerkley shared the districts Re-Entry Plan for 2020 at the July 20, 2020 Pendleton County Board of Education meeting.   Superintendent Buerkley began by stating, “The district understands that each child, parent/guardian, and family may have unique situations which impact their feelings regarding the re-opening of schools.  Based on this, our plan will provide two options for parents/guardians to choose from for the 2020-21 school year.” 

Option 1:  Return to In-Person Instruction (5 days/week)

PC Schools will provide an opportunity for students to receive in-person instruction, however this plan will invest heavily in the stringent health and safety measures outlined in Kentucky’s Healthy at School document.  Each child that chooses to participate in in-person instruction shall be required to participate in all required safety measures.  District may move to an alternating day schedule if PC Schools determines it is necessary to reduce class sizes.

Option 2:  Remote Instruction – PC CARES Academy

PC Schools will also provide a remote learning option, PC Center for Academic Remote Education Services (CARES), for those who do not wish to return to in-person instruction.  Students who choose this option will commit to this option through December 18, 2020.

Superintendent Buerkley then explained the steps the district had taken to arrive at this decision.  He described the parent/guardian survey that was given recently and shared how that data is being used to guide the district’s current plan. 

Buerkley shared that the district had about a 70% response rate for this survey which is very good.  He pointed responses indicated 62.75% (945) of individuals responded that they did not support sending their child to school wearing a mask the majority of the school day and 74.59% (1124) of individuals responded they wanted a remote option.  Buerkley also shared that out of those 945 individuals who responded “No” to wearing a mask 84.7% of those would like a remote option.

Superintendent Buerkley then went on to say from this data we learned that there was a need to provide a remote learning option.  By providing this option and based on other data we should be able to reduce capacity within our buildings to conduct in person instruction while meeting the stringent health and safety measures outlined in Kentucky’s Healthy at School Document.  To be clear, we are not advocating to return to regular in person instruction 5 days per week like it has been in the past.  No option exists that will allow students to participate in in-person instruction without wearing mask, practicing social distancing, participating in health screening or temperature checks and other safety measures daily. 

Superintendent Buerkley also was clear to point out that if more individuals decide to take advantage of the in person instruction option than the survey data indicated, we will be forced to revisit our plan and look at an alternating schedule to reduce our class sizes. 

Buerkley acknowledged that parents will need more information before they may be able to choose an appropriate learning option for their child.  Due to this the district has created a special tab on the district website to provide more information.  This information can be viewed by visiting the Pendleton County Schools website at www.pendleton.kyschools.us and clicking on the Re-Entry tab. 

In closing his presentation, Superintendent Buerkley shared that many factors will be at play over the coming months that may impact the district’s ability to provide in person learning options for students.  He stated the district will be closely monitoring the following:

  • Community spread – are we staying at a low level?  
  • Testing – locally adequate testing is still an issue.  This will impact our ability to deal with suspected cases in a timely fashion, thereby impacting the in-person learning schedule.
  • Supply Chain – are we able to acquire the PPE and cleaning supplies necessary for a safe re-entry, both costs and accessibility may become an issue.
  • Staffing – will we have an adequate number of staff to implement our plan.  Our staff are not immune to this virus and many of them have underlying medical conditions per CDC guidelines, either personally, or within their families that may limit their ability to participate in in-person learning.

He also recommended that any parent choosing the in-person learning option should also have a plan in place in the event we need to transition to a Non-traditional Instruction day (closure to in-person learning).  

Superintendent Buerkley acknowledged the 2020-21 school year may be very fluid and changes to the re-entry plan may be required in order to maintain the safety of our students and staff.  He stated he will continue to re-evaluate this situation and update everyone regarding future plans as necessary.