The 2020-21 school year is rapidly approaching and the Lawrence County Board of Education is gearing up for it. 

School is set to resume on August 12 as scheduled, although students will have the option of choosing traditional, virtual or blended learning. 

In his Superintendent's report, Dr. Jon Bret Smith outlined all the work they are doing to get ready for the school year. 

"We have a lot going on right now," said Smith. "There are a lot of people behind the scenes that are doing a phenomenal job to help us get ready for this school year." 

Having to deal with Covid-19 while getting back to education means that there will be a lot of expenditures that have to be dealt with. Luckily the board received money from the cares act to help take care of those expenditures. 

"We will have mask for every student. We've bought paper masks and cloth masks," Smith said. "We want to make sure that every student will have access to a quality mask." 

Sanitizing will be a big part of this school year, making sure that everything remains as clean as possible in order to prevent as much spread of the virus as possible. 

We've hired extra custodial help through funding from the Cares Act," said Smith. "They will be coming in before school and after school to help sanitize all the facilities." 

"We've also purchased about  $15,000 worth of Germ-X," Smith said. "I know we've had parents telling us how hard it is to get it. So we've purchased enough to make sure each teacher will have enough supply for an extended period of time." 

There has been much debate, not just here in Lawrence County, but all across the state, about whether or not schools should be starting back. 

Most schools are starting back with traditional, while giving the option of virtual and blended. However, there are some schools that have decided to go completely virtual. It's a strong debate, one of which neither side really has the right answer. But Dr. Smith expressed his desire to get back to traditional learning as long as the health department allows it. 

"You hear stories of what some of these kids are going through at home and we've been home now since March 17," Smith said. "For some of these kids, school is the safest place they have to go. That's why I'm an advocate of getting back to traditional learning for all that choose that option." 

During the board meeting, Smith was asked what would happen to the rest of the classroom if a student were to test positive for Covid-19. 

"We've been told plainly that we will not be responsible for contact tracing," he said. "As for what we would do, there's really no set answer. It will really be situation by situation." 

School will start back on August 12, but the board realizes that the threat of another shutdown will always loom, at least for the near future. Smith said they will be prepared if such a shutdown were to happen. 

"We are going to do everything we can to make sure we keep kids safe this year," he said. "Hopefully we will be able to go traditional for the whole school year. But whatever happens the plan is to give these kids a great education."

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