The Pikeville Independent Schools Board of Education discussed the delay of in-person classes and approved an emergency leave resolution for full-time and part-time employees related to COVID-19, along with other items, during its meeting on Aug. 18.

At the start of the meeting, Superintendent David Trimble provided comments regarding how the district is continuing to plan for this school year, while needing to adjust their reopening plan. He said that he believes the leadership team at Pikeville Independent Schools is prepared to make any and all necessary adjustments to the plan as they go forward.

The district will start school virtually on Aug. 26, and it plans to return to in-person classes on Sept. 28, according to an amended school calendar the board approved during the meeting. Trimble emphasized how important it is for the district to eventually bring their students back to in-person classes when it is safe to do so.

“I just want to take a second to thank the folks in this district,” Trimble said. “With our leadership team, they have spent countless hours preparing and working on things we are going to use in NTI and things that we will use when we bring our kids back in person. The number one thing that we want is our kids in front of teachers, and we’re gonna work very hard every single day to make that happen.”

Trimble thanked the staff and teachers in the district, saying that he was grateful for the work they have done in preparing for the upcoming school year. He also provided comments to families of students in the district.

“I want to say to our families: I know there are some hard decisions,” Trimble said. “I know some don’t agree with everything that we’ve done, but either way, I want them to know that we always have the best interest of their kids at heart. I’m appreciative of our families and I’m appreciative of what they’re trying to do.”

The board approved a resolution from the state that will provide full-time and part-time employees up to two weeks (10 work days) of paid emergency leave without loss of salary. The extended number of days will expire at the end of the 2020-21 school year, or upon the end of the governor’s declared state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paid emergency leave days must be related to COVID-19. To use the paid emergency leave days, an employee’s reason must fall into various categories related to the virus where the employee will be unable to work (or telework).

The reasons include the employee being subject to local, state or federal quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; being advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19; experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; and seeking a medical diagnosis or caring for an individual who is quarantined due to COVID-19; caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19; being subject to an order or recommendation to quarantine based on a travel advisory issued by a state or federal health agency; or such other COVID-19 related reasons of an emergency or extraordinary nature as approved by the superintendent.

“There are some limitations on it, depending on if you’re the person that tested positive, or are in quarantine or are caring for someone,” Trimble said. “There are some places where it becomes two-thirds on those days. It’s still an opportunity for us to provide some additional emergency leave if we do have someone who has to go during this time. It’s something I think that’s really important to our staff.”

The board also approved using Title I Part A funds to purchase elementary textbooks and approved purchasing mathematics textbooks for the district. Trimble discussed these textbook purchases, saying they will be a good investment for the future of the district.

“The district-wide math textbook purchase, that’s a nice commitment by the board we talked about previously, and I thank you for that,” Trimble said. “We’re at the point where we need to get into a textbook cycle, and some of your children know that some of our materials are getting a little outdated. It’s gonna be a nice investment. We’ve worked to bring in some Title funds to it as well.”

Instructional Supervisor Mary Belcher also said, during her report near the start of the meeting, that she and the district were working on getting necessary digital resources for all students to have access to virtual learning.

Co-District Technology Coordinators Neil Arnett and Brandon Blackburn discussed the Kentucky School Board Association’s policy on data security, and the board also discussed KSBA’s policy on Title IX sexual harassment. Both policies are required to be approved by the board at the start of each school year.

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