Grayson County Schools has released the results of the first in a series of family surveys as the district plans for the 2020-21 school year, currently scheduled to start on August 5.
When closures were announced in March due to COVID-19, schools across the state transitioned into a prolonged period of Non-Traditional instruction. That provision was originally designed by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to be used for a maximum of ten days and primarily for review.
As the closures were extended for the remainder of the school year, districts and their teachers were faced with new challenges of providing fresh materials while, along with parents, navigating many unknowns.
With nearly 1,500 responses, the majority in grades 4 – 8, followed by high school, primary and preschool/kindergarten, results showed that students completed NTI through a relatively even mix of online, paper or both.
More than 80 percent of families found their child’s assignments to be grade-level appropriate. Nearly 73 percent reported the amount of daily work as reasonable, with the majority of students spending two to four hours each day.
While most families reported no barriers to the process, the biggest area of concern was technology – either a lack of internet or number of devices, especially as many parents were also in a work- from-home situation.
Three quarters of families believed they received enough instruction to complete assignments. Half reported additional communication with teachers either daily or several times each week, primarily electronically or by phone. Another 15 percent reported additional contact at least once a week. Feedback on assignments was slightly mixed with nearly 60 percent in the yes category.
The survey results will be used to guide the district in redefining the virtual learning model, which will likely be in place at some point during the upcoming school year. It will also allow families to be assured of a more robust learning experience should they choose to explore a virtual option.
A technology survey is currently in progress to gauge household internet capabilities and device needs for distance learning.
“I really appreciate the tremendous response to the NTI survey,” said Superintendent Doug Robinson. “I can’t stress enough how important it is for every family with a child in Grayson County Schools to participate in in each survey as it is released.”
The surveys are available online at graysoncountyschools.com. Families that need or prefer to take any of the surveys on paper can call the district office, 270-259-4011, to have a copy mailed to them.
A third and final survey will go out mid-June to provide insight into family perceptions regarding a return to the classroom. It will deal with thoughts on in-person or virtual learning options, safety, transportation and other varied issues.
“This input will play a big part in decisions we are making and the plans we are putting in place to help us provide the best and safest experience for our students and our families.”
In addition to the surveys, internal committees have been meeting over the past several weeks to provide guidelines and protocols in three primary areas: Health and Safety; Teaching, Learning and Exceptional Children; and District and School Operations.
These groups include district and school administrators, along with teachers and staff from every school, to address the specifics of their respective areas. As the goals and tasks ahead for each are more clearly defined, parents and students, as well, will be included in the decision-making process.
“We realize that families, our staff, and our community have questions and need to get plans in place,” said Robinson. “Waiting is hard. Not knowing is hard. We are working with information that changes weekly – sometimes daily – and playing through a thousand scenarios for every possible situation as we work to put in place a contingency for each,” said Robinson
Robinson noted the example of social distancing and bus capacity which which would have meant limiting the number of students on each bus. That was just recently changed to allow districts to transport at full capacity, provided each student wears a mask during that time.
“It would be awesome to have a crystal ball to see what life looks like in a couple of months,” he continued, “but here in the beginning of June, it’s too early to confidently say what life – and school – will look like two months down the road. Yet with each day that passes, with additional guidance and planning, we inch a little closer.”
Districts around the state continue to receive guidance from both KDE and the State Public Health Department. The district also continues to work closely with the Grayson County Health Center, in order to tailor plans more specifically to the local community, while also adhering to state guidelines and regulations.
Robinson admits that for now, it’s a bit of a waiting game, but the engines are on full throttle behind the scenes. “Family and staff feedback will be a vital part of our decision making,” he said. “We will be transparent and share as much as we know at any given time. We will provide updates as we move through the planning stages and have more specifics.”
He added that Grayson County Schools is excited to get back to business, “our business of educating and building relationships with our children, in a manner that best protects the health and safety of our students, staff, families and community.“