UNION, Ky. — School districts across the Commonwealth are trying to get everything in order as the new school year quickly approaches.

What You Need To Know

  • Boone County Schools had a board meeting on July 15 to discuss the upcoming school year

  • The district is still waiting on further guidance to decide whether students will be required to wear masks

  • The district faces several challenges in the coming year, such as staffing positions like bus driver

  • One grandparent said she doesn’t want to see students be made to wear masks

While many things have begun to return to normal, lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still creating challenges for schools.

Making sure her voice was heard at Boone County Schools’ latest school board meeting was important to Nancy Suhr, whose grandkids attend schools in the district.

“The last 15 months of the school year was relatively catastrophic academically. Kids really, really struggle, math, science and stuff. I’m all for incorporating lots of different things in the curriculum, provided it’s objective,” she said. “We need to just focus on catching them up with the things that are important, and then maybe adding additional things along the way.”

Suhr was referring to critical race theory, which has been a hot — and often misunderstood — topic at schools across the state. She wasn’t the only parent who wanted to talk about CRT at the board meeting on July 15, but the topic wasn’t on the board’s agenda. Board members said it was more of a business meeting, and that any changes to curriculum would come at the state level.

What kind of mask policies will be enforced in schools was another topic parents wanted clarity on. Deputy Superintendent Eric McArtor said the district is still working on it, awaiting further guidance from the CDC, the Kentucky Department of Education and Department of Health.

“We have a COVID committee that we meet with regularly. And we’re going to discuss all those different scenarios that were given to us in guidance, and try to make the best decision in the best interest of the kids, as far as the masking goes, and vaccinations and things like that,” he said. “And we will be making those decisions within the next couple weeks, and get that out to the community before school starts.”

On Wednesday, July 21, superintendent Matthew Turner posted a note to parents on the school's website saying that Boone County will not mandate mask wearing for students.  Instead he wrote he would leave that decision up to individual families.  

Suhr shared her concerns on kids getting vaccinated and wearing masks.

“With regards to kids getting the vaccine, for the most part, that’s a parent's decision. I don’t know that the masks do a whole lot, and I think socially, it really hurts the kids. Just the whole idea that nobody sees the expression on your face,” she said.

McArtor said the district faces several challenges heading into the new school year, which starts August 18, like staffing certain positions.

“We are in need of some bus drivers. So if anybody is interested in driving a bus, or working with us in the certified level, or as a paraeducator, or an aid, please contact our resources department, and we’d be happy to help you, walk you through that process,” he said.

The biggest challenge, though, he said, is trying to do what’s best for 21,000 kids, their families, and the staff.

“I think people are tired of the pandemic. I’m tired of the pandemic, but you really have to pay attention to what’s going on. The delta variant that’s out there is real, and you have to pay attention to the science, and what the doctors say,” McArtor said.