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Letter to editor: Jesse Parks notes difficult week as Boone County Schools worked to keep schools open

The efforts to keep our schools open
“Last week was one of the most difficult weeks since the start of the pandemic”.  This was how one Boone County principal described the turbulent week.

At the start of every morning last week Boone County School principals woke up not knowing how many and which staff members they would have for the day. With each notification of their smart phone, more complications would be added to the already daunting task of educating Boone’s over twenty thousand students. Will there be enough subs to fill in? Will there be enough cafeteria workers to provide breakfast and lunch? Already down to the bare minimum of custodians and bus drivers, will today be the day we literally cannot pick up all the students or clean up after the students eat lunch? Will there be enough kindergarten teachers?  Can one teacher handle two classrooms?

Planning for and contending with these complicated logistical issues started completely over every day this week as positive cases swept through Boone County schools.

Every staff member from the superintendent down was focused on one mission. Keep students learning and learning in person. While other districts this week fought similar battles with covid infections and were forced to go remote, Boone County Schools and their staff rose to the challenge. Cafeterias with all but two or three staff members out, served breakfast and lunch for hundreds of students. Grade level teams having to cover multiple classes. Central office staff being sent in to cover everything from classrooms to the phones. The employees of Boone County Schools worked tirelessly and effectively to keep our students engaged, learning, and in school.
In a time when under-staffing is already a huge issue and when tensions over the ever-changing COVID protocols and general COVID fatigue has set in, the effort put forth by teachers, district central office staff, bus drivers, custodians, para-educators, administrators and so many others is exemplary and remarkable.

This effort to keep our schools open is not the result of Frankfort limiting NTI days. In Boone County, this effort was made because the overriding goal and daily mission of every staff member is to educate our students by keeping them engaged, safe, and learning in the building.

As a board member for Boone County schools my hope is that parents and other stakeholders will take a moment just to give a simple, tip of the hat or a “Thank You” to education professionals not only in our Boone County Schools but everywhere in Kentucky.

As parents, we sometimes take these professionals for granted. After a week like this, after personally witnessing the “next man up” mentality at work, I have no doubt that our schools in Boone County have the absolute best employees serving our students.

As a parent of a 6th grader and a Board of Education member I say, Thank You.

Jesse Parks is an elected member of the Boone County Board of Education.

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