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OCS to follow state mandate, will begin virtual learning Monday

November 20, 2020 | 12:06 am

Updated November 20, 2020 | 12:22 am

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Owensboro Catholic Schools announced Thursday afternoon they will be following the state mandate issued Wednesday by Gov. Andy Beshear, which means they’ll transition to virtual learning beginning Monday. 

Per the mandate, middle and high schools will remain in remote instruction until Jan. 4. Elementary schools may reopen Dec. 7 if their county is not in the red zone and the school follows all Healthy at Schools guidance.

OCS released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

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Owensboro Catholic Schools to Follow State Mandate
The Owensboro Catholic System was extremely disappointed to learn that Governor Andy Beshear is using his legal authority to effectively close the school system.

“Instead of celebrating our mitigation techniques and modeling an effective, safe educational environment for our students, he is forcing us into a model that we think could increase transmissions,” said Keith Osborne, the Chief Administrative Officer for the system. “In school, children are in a disciplined, masked environment and are held accountable each day. Now parents are using relatives, grandparents, babysitters and scrambling to find child care services. It’s a tremendous emotional and financial impact.”

“The decision certainly impacts the quality of education, especially in the grade schools.”

“In three months of school we did not have one single classroom transmission,” said Osborne. “We invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into equipment and spent four months developing a plan that would deliver on our promise to provide a secure educational environment. We thought that those were the things that the Governor said should be a priority, and so we made them a priority.”

Osborne applauded the work of the local Green River Area Development District and the work they have done to identify and trace the illness.

“We have a good working relationship with their staff and we appreciated their guidance,” he said, “because they could explain every single decision they made to quarantine and help our school remain safe.” 

He said the Governor’s decision will have the most severe impact on families who are already at a socio-economic and educational disadvantage.

“It makes absolutely no sense to us at all,” Osborne said. “The decisions should be based on data. Who wants to see any child denied their education, especially when our system worked!” 

He said he had hoped the Governor would have allowed more localized decisions and taken into consideration more circumstances. 

“Why fix something that’s not broken? Why would he deny our children this opportunity?”

Osborne said, “In the fall the Governor made a recommendation that we postpone school and we complied with the first one. But we knew we could facilitate a safe, in-school environment and started on August 28th, despite his recommendation for another postponement. This time he made sure this was an Executive Order so we would have to break the law to attend school. We are obligated to follow the rule of law.“

Contacting Legislators
If you would like to share your comments and concerns about the recent executive order to close all private schools, feel free to reach out to your local legislators and let your voice be heard. 

Everyone can locate their local legislators at the following website: https://legislature.ky.gov/Pages/contactus.aspx

Here are some talking points that parents or stakeholders might want to address in their comments:

*Concern to mental health of students, teachers, and parents.

*Parents dealing with child care issues even though they have done everything that was asked of them.

*Social injustice to the people and staff that could possibly lose income during a school shut down

*Having to pay a premium to find available child care, which could lead to relying on grandparents who are our most vulnerable.

*Loss of instructional time. Our test scores are higher due to all the hard work that our teachers, parents, and students have put in. 

*That essential in-person contact that we have fought so hard for has now been removed.

November 20, 2020 | 12:06 am

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