Not since March 13 have the students of Somerset Independent Schools taken instruction from their teachers within actual classroom walls. If all goes according to plan, next Tuesday will be the first time the halls will ring with the voices of education once more.
It’s not the first day of school proper – that happened last Monday with students logging in and connecting with their teachers and assignments through virtual learning.
But a series of circumstances led the district to offer the choice for students to attend in person starting on the first day, only to have that decision revoked after Governor Andy Beshear made the recommendation to keep physical classrooms closed until late September. Then, after Lively had a meeting with Interim Commissioner of Education Kevin C. Brown, Lively and the school’s Board of Education once again decided to hold in-person classes beginning September 8, sooner than the Governor’s recommendation.
On Tuesday, Superintendent Kyle Lively said, “Although last week was a very different first week of school, it was still a great educational experience. Teachers and students were able to interact though a virtual platform, and everyone seemed excited. The transportation and food service department did a fantastic job with meal drop-offs. It was certainly nice to hear and see buses running throughout the district. We appreciate the hard work of the staff, students, and administration to make the first week of distance learning a positive experience. We are also thankful for the support and patience parents/guardians displayed during this unique but successful first week of school.”
Lively said there have been no major problems with the distance learning setup and that overall it has gone smoothly. He said there had been a WiFi server crash on Monday, but it was back up and running before the end of the day.
He added, “We are extremely excited to have students back to in-person classes under the purple/gold model next week.”
That model will have students attending classes on a rotating schedule. Half of the students – those whose household names begin with A through J – are the “purple” group, while students whose family names begin with K through Z are the “gold” group.
“Purple” students will attend classes in-person on Mondays and Wednesday only. “Gold” students will attend in-person on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. On days students are not attending in-person – the alternating rotation of days and Fridays – students will attend class through distance learning.
The first week will begin with Tuesday’s group attending class due to school being closed in recognition of Labor Day.
Some students have opted to attend class virtually full-time, and that option is still open to them. Back in July, Somerset made plans to offer both in-person and distance learning depending on preference.
In August, Lively said that around 74 percent of the students had opted to attend in-person, leaving around 26 percent choosing online only.
As of Tuesday, those numbers have not changed a lot, Lively said.
“However, that could fluctuate either way once we begin on Tuesday,” he said.