When the Dawson Springs Independent Schools board of education met, its members sat several feet apart. The group met on Monday, March 16, the first day of nontraditional instruction in the district.

The move to NTI was granted on an emergency basis through a waiver application to the state during the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The district called off in-person schooling until April 13, under the recommendation of Gov. Andy Beshear. On Friday, Beshear called for schools to extend that to April 20. Teachers are working this week to prepare additional material for a packet full of a week’s worth of schoolwork. Parents will turn in completed packets and get new ones on Monday or at a time determined by the teachers and parents.

“Right now we’re just trying to get into somewhat of a routine with NTI and stressing regular contact between the teacher and student or teacher and parent in many cases with younger students,” Superintendent Lenny Whalen said. “We’re really focusing on two-way communication and a reasonable work load. We want to be sure both students and/or parents are reaching out to the teacher if they need assistance or have any questions. If they have issues reaching a teacher or have concerns we hope they’ll contact the building principal. We know high-quality classroom interaction and instruction cannot be replicated, but we’re striving for the absolute best we can do with constant communication and high q(uality) assignments.”

Whalen said the district has been asked to prepare in case out-of-classroom instruction were to be extended past that point.

Feeding

Dawson Area Personal Services, a local food bank, is in need of food. Board members cannot make its usual bulk grocery order because of limited items available in stores. The board is asking for community members to remember the food bank when shopping for themselves. DAPS needs peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, canned pasta, instant mashed potatoes, pork and beans, etc.

Food will still be provided for students by the school district and children by the YMCA for the additional week of NTI.

The YMCA van will make stops at a few places in Dawson Springs so children can come by and grab another meal. Jason Hale, who works in the district and coordinates local efforts through the YMCA, drive the organization’s van to Clarkdale Court Apartments each weekday from 2:30 to 2:50 p.m. The next stop is the Dawson Springs City Park from 2:55 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. The last stops are Belmont Apartments from 3:15 to 3:30 p.m. and the Hard Work Cafe at the school from 4 to 5 p.m.

Students along the bus routes or who have requested delivery of sack breakfasts and lunches provided by cafeteria workers will have meals delivered to them from about 10:30 a.m. to noon on Monday for Monday and Tuesday’s meals and on Wednesday for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday meals. The two-day delivery schedule is “an attempt to minimize person-to-person contact as much as possible,” Whalen said in a tweet over the weekend. In addition, there is a drive-thru pick up station in front of the gymnasium from 11 a.m. to noon on those days.

“I hope all students, parents and local community members will continue to follow health recommendations to use social distancing and wash your hands regularly,” Whalen told the Progress on Tuesday. “Together we can get through this.”

If parents or students have questions about schoolwork or meals, they should contact their school’s office at 270-797-3811.

State testing

On Tuesday, the Kentucky Department of Education announced that K-PREP testing for the 2019-20 school year is canceled. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education said students who were affected by closures spurred by the Coronavirus pandemic can skip standardized testing. The state department applied for the waiver and it was tentatively approved.

The majority of Kentucky’s public school students took the ACT test March 10. KDE is working with representatives from ACT to provide additional options for students that were unable to complete testing. Additional information will be provided when details are finalized, KDE said in a news release.

For this year, Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown said all federal ratings and supports will remain the same until after the next testing cycle in the spring of 2021. The list of schools qualifying for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) also will stay the same.

“I hope this will help ease some of the anxiety being felt among our families and our teachers,” Brown said. “I want our teachers and schools to concentrate on providing a great education to their students through the NTI Program rather than worry about standardized testing. Let’s end this year strong despite the extra stress COVID-19 has placed on all of us.”

Brown said the USDE intends to issue a formal approval of the KDE waiver request in the coming weeks.

Updated closings

Restaurants have moved to pick-up or drive-thru orders. Some deliver.

The Dawson Springs Branch Library has closed and no one is working.

Salons are closed.

Planters Bank and US Bank are opened to drive-thru traffic only.

Rex Parker Insurance can be reached at 270-797-2961.

Harned Insurance has closed its lobby to the public. Contact them at 270-797-3021.

Organizers of Dawson Springs Mule and Draft Horse Days have announced the cancellation of the event.

The lobby at Dawson Springs City Hall and the water department are closed but employees are working. Payments can be made in the dropbox or by calling city hall at 270-797-2781 or the water department at 270-797-2844.

“At this time of uncertainty, I would like to thank you all for following the request from the President and Governor of Kentucky during the Coronavirus pandemic,” Mayor Chris Smiley said in a statement to the citizens. “... Please remember to stay calm, use social distancing and check on your neighbors, especially the elderly. Remember to check your temperature before going out in public and stay home as much as you can. We need to consider everyone since we do not know the health and situation others may be in. ... We will come through this in time so be safe and remember to be your brother’s keeper.”

Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church announced all church services are canceled. Several features are posted on its Facebook page.

Pastor Mike Moschenrose at Dawson Springs First Christian Church will address the congregation on the church’s Facebook page on Sunday evenings.

Walnut Grove Family Worship Center will be closed for two weeks and messages and sermons will be available on the church’s Facebook page.

Landmark Church Pastor Rusty Akers said services are broadcast live on pentecostallive.com and on the church’s Facebook page.

Dawson Springs Baptist Temple has canceled its services.

Dawson Springs First Baptist Church’s services are moved to the church website and Facebook page.

School board coverage

At its regular meeting on Monday, March 16, the board:

• read over the reports provided by Dawson Springs Elementary School Principal Jennifer Ward, Jr./Sr. High School Principal Todd Marshall, Chief Academic Officer Larry Cavanah and Director of Pupil Personnel Kent Workman. Of note, attendance from Feb. 14 to March 13 was 94.5% for the district. The percentage was up 1.21% from the previous month.

• approved the treasurer’s report. At the end of February, the general fund was sitting at $1,603,004.05, which is about $57,000 down from the previous year.

• approved on second reading the 2020-21 school calendar.

{div}• approved the amended 2019-20 school calendar to reflect the final day for students and graduation as May 22. It was noted that the final day for nongraduating students could possibly change if weather or illness occurs. Closing day will be May 26.{/div}

{div}• approved the nontraditional instructional day plan and waiver request to the Kentucky Department of Education. {/div}

{div}• approved to advertise for bids to replace approximately 924 square feet of failing sidewalks at an estimated cost of $11,000 to $12,000 instead of filing a lawsuit against Ray Construction, who is no longer in business. {/div}

{div}• approved the senior class request that they be allowed to move their previously approved class trip from April to May 14-19. Whalen noted that if the COVID-19 concerns are still around at that time, the seniors realize the trip may have to be canceled. {/div}

{div}• approved the KDE School and Community Nutrition Permanent Agreement. {/div}

{div}• acknowledged personnel actions. Sterling Wallace was hired as a substitute bus driver. Nicole Bourland resigned as a cook/baker, and Crystal Day resigned as high school cheer coach. {/div}

{div}• approved about 55 seventh- and eighth-grade students to travel to Holiday World on May 19. This trip may also be called off. {/div}

{div}• approved to surplus unusable high school textbooks. {/div}

{div}The next regular board meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday, April 20. {/div}