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Several Kentucky Schools Say They Are Ready To Open This Week, We Take You Inside One Of Them

Karyn Czar

As we reported last week, a few hundred schools will be opening in Kentucky this week, despite the Governor’s recommendation to wait until September 28th. We were given an in-depth tour and went through Coronavirus safety procedures at LCA. School leaders say they are ready.

Before you walk through the doors of Lexington Christian Academy your masks have to be on. No negotiations.

“Every student will get one on day one. Every staff member will get one” said Head of School Dr. Scott Wells. The masks with the school logo were donated by White, Greer and Maggard Orthodontics…one for every person who comes into the building. Our next stop was the front desk where we got our temperatures taken and filled out a health questionnaire on our phones.

We were cleared to enter through a second set of glass doors. “If you’ll notice on the floor. We have one-directional traffic only” said Wells “students cannot back up. Everyone is facing one direction. The CDC says that’s the best practice.”

Inside the classrooms, desks are spread six feet apart and LCA’s board approved the funding for technology for students who will be learning from home. It’s called SWIVEL. Think of it as an iPad on a rotating tripod. Wells explained that students can “log in at the same time class begins and literally they can see their teachers lecturing. This will actually swivel, literally follow her around the room. It’s an interactive technology so if a student at home has a question they just raise their hand.  

Dr. Wells said about 5% of the student body opted for at-home learning and the SWIVEL technology will also come into play if any students do need to quarantine or test positive but are still well enough to keep up with their classwork at home.

Meredyth Davis teaches Business classes and works with the K-12 choirs. She says she’s not worried, she feels prepared and she’s ready to get back. “I’m absolutely excited about it and I personally have a senior in high school and he kind of doesn’t even care. He’s like mom I’ll wear a mask if it means I can see my teachers. He’s actually more excited to see his teachers than even his friends.”

In her class, a line of blue painters tape stretches across the front of the room, and the first line of desks sit about 8-10 feet away. “As long as I’m in my coaching zone,” said Davis, “I am safe and socially distanced. I am free to be able to take my mask off so the kids can see my face which is especially helpful for those kids who are visual learners and need to read lips or anybody who has learning difficulties and need to see a face or facial expressions.”

Once Davis leaves her bubble…the mask goes up.

Dr. Wells said every protocol laid out by national, state and local health officials is being followed to a tee.

Another advantage private schools have is that they can cap enrollment. Last week we talked with the head of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Lexington. They are nearly all at capacity. Dr. Wells said it is the same for them at LCA, there is currently a waiting list to get in.

Despite the best-laid precautions and plans, last week Governor Andy Beshear said he still hopes schools planning to reopen will hit the pause button. “I think digital learning until September 28th gives us a good chance of success,” Beshear said, “It protects the health and safety of our teachers who are being asked to take on more risks than many of our healthcare workers with less PPE, a group of kids that have a harder time complying with the mask mandate and staying away from each other.”

But Dr. Wells said they have been preparing to get the school back open for nearly three months and doesn’t believe four more weeks would make a difference. “We always respect the Governor and what he says and we follow him actually daily.” Wells continued, “We felt though we were ready and to delay further would really be a disservice to our families.”

LCA has also created a COVID response team, which will meet regularly to see if any adjustments need to be made or if there are new recommendations that need to be followed. And the reality is, someone will at some point test positive or be exposed.  

“We have nurses on campus to help us with that but obviously anyone who is symptomatic will be quarantined and parents will be called. We’re following on the CDC guidelines on that including conferring with the Lexington Fayette County Health Department.”

Dr. Wells said he knows a lot of eyes will be on LCA since they are one of the first to open. He vows to be transparent about case numbers, challenges and any mistakes made along the way so that other schools that follow with in-person learning will know what to expect before they head back into the classroom.