Boone Co. Schools suspend plans for more in-person learning due to recent spike in COVID cases

Posted at 5:07 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 21:35:41-04

BOONE COUNTY, Ky. — Now more than two months into her daughter's fourth-grade school year at Kelly Elementary in Burlington, Jodi Collins is frustrated.

"It's not been easy," Collins told WCPO Thursday.

Boone County Schools resumed virtual classes in late August and initiated an integrated learning plan -- part virtual, part in-person -- roughly a month later. The district was set to ramp up in-person learning this week, expanding from two to four days each week, but the recent spike in coronavirus cases across the region has put that plan on hiatus.

Boone County saw a spike in cases earlier this month but, in the last two weeks, seems to be leveling off its new case occurrence rate at least for the time-being. As of Thursday afternoon, the county registered as orange (on a scale of yellow to red) on the commonwealth's COVID map.

Collins said, as a working mother, having a child learning from home most of the week has been a challenge that grows more and more stressful with each week of uncertainty.

"I work Monday through Friday. I have to be in the office. I cannot work from home. So I rely on others to make sure everything is getting taken care of," Collins said.

The challenges of at-home learning expand beyond Collins' work demands. Her daughter has dyslexia and is on an individualized-education program, requiring regular intervention by a special education instructor.

"It’s a lack of structure that, unfortunately, I can’t instill because I’m not available to be there with her," she said. "Now she’s getting into science; she’s getting into social studies; she’s getting into things that are crucial for her middle school development, and it’s just not there. She’s despondent. She doesn’t care."

Collins said learning from home has been "more organized" this fall than it was in the spring when the pandemic abruptly shut down in-person learning across the region. But she also said her daughter's need for individualized instruction makes long-term distance learning a challenge, and not knowing whether her daughter will get to return to the classroom the following week is making things harder.

WCPO reached out to Boone County Schools Superintendent Matt Turner, who said he was unavailable for an interview for this story.

"Unfortunately, most of the people that have children in your school district, they are (of) a working-class society. They need to be able to better prepare themselves for the following week. I know myself, personally, I struggle with that week to week worrying about that," she said. "It’s not great and I understand that the school district and teachers are doing what they can. But there’s only so much parents can do for their children as well."

Collins said there's a clear difference between her daughter's learning on days when she is at home versus in the classroom.

"She goes (into school) on Thursdays and Fridays, and those days she excels," she said. "But, you know, Monday through Wednesday she’s expected to log in and the login times are never the same, so she ends up missing some of those meets on those days. Being with a teacher in the school versus being with your parent, it’s not the same. You can’t expect them to give that same drive."

As it determines its next move, the school district is reminding families and students to wear masks and follow other safety procedures to keep everyone safe at school.

WCPO reporter Jasmine Minor contributed to this report.