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Earlier this week, on Aug. 10, Perry County Superintendent Jonathan Jett and Hazard Independent Superintendent Sondra Combs announced that neither school district will begin in-person classes on Aug. 24, as they had previously scheduled. Instead, both school districts will follow Gov. Andy Beshear’s recommendation to delay their return to in-person classes until Sept. 28.

Beshear’s recommendation came on Aug. 10, days after the Kentucky Education Association asked for school districts to begin the school year virtually due to the ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he claimed there are several reasons for this decision including a plateau in reported case numbers, an increasing number of COVID-19 cases being reported in children under the age of 18, the experiences of other states after they reopened their school districts and how several Kentucky residents have continued to travel to known hot spots for the virus despite Kentucky’s travel advisory.

Officials with both Hazard Independent and Perry County School districts said they are scheduled to begin NTI/virtual instruction on Aug. 24, and hope to begin in-person classes on Sept. 28.

Perry County Superintendent Jonathan Jett said he has communicated with board members, principals and central office staff related to the delayed start, as well as met with the district reopening committee to make decisions on any adjustments that were needed to open virtually.

“This is a fluid situation that is changing almost daily,” Jett said. “We all want to go back to in-person classes as soon as possible. The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority,” he said.

Both school districts are currently planning to provide school materials for virtual instruction to families prior to their start date. Dates and times are as follows:

• On Tuesday, Aug. 18, a back to school bash will be held for all Hazard Independent Schools from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the shelter by City Hall.

• On Aug. 17, East Perry Elementary School will have a drive-thru material distribution for first grade from noon to 1:30 p.m., and second grade from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. On Aug. 18, kindergarten students can come pick up materials. On Aug. 19, the drive-thru will be held for third grade from 8 am. to 10 a.m., fourth grade from 10 a.m. to noon and fifth grade from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. On Aug. 20, the sixth grade drive-thru will be from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., seventh grade from 10 a.m. to noon and eighth grade from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• West Perry Elementary School will have a drive-thru distribution for materials on Aug. 13 for eighth grade (9 a.m. to noon) and seventh grade (noon to 3 p.m.); on Aug. 14 for sixth grade (9 a.m. to noon) and fifth grade (noon to 3 p.m.); Aug. 17 for fourth grade (9 a.m. to noon) and third grade (noon to 3 p.m.); on Aug. 18 for second grade (9 a.m. to noon) and first grade (noon to 3 p.m.); and on Aug. 19 for kindergarten (9 a.m. to noon).

• R.W. Combs Elementary School will have preschool registration on Aug. 13-14, and  preschool screening on Aug. 18-19. On Aug. 18, a drive-thru will be held for first, second, third and fourth grades from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Aug. 19, a drive-thru will be held for fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Aug. 20, there will be a kindergarten classroom visit.

• Leatherwood Elementary School will have a drive-thru from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 20-21.

• Robinson Elementary School will hold a pre-school registration on Aug. 13-14, and will distribute materials to first, second and third grades from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 18; to fourth and fifth grades from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 19; to sixth, seventh and eighth grades from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Aug. 20; and to Kindergarten on Aug. 20-21.

• Viper Elementary School will distribute materials on Aug. 18 for kindergarten, first and second grades (from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.); on Aug. 19 for third, fourth and fifth grades (from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.); and Aug. 20 for sixth, seventh and eighth grades (from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

• Buckhorn School will distribute materials via a drive-thru on Aug. 12 for seniors and all dual credit students (9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and all juniors (noon to 3 p.m.); on Aug. 13 for all sophomores (9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and all freshmen (noon to 3 p.m.); on Aug. 14 from grades K-8 for first time enrollment (9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and first time enrollment grades 9-12 from (12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.); on Aug. 17 for first, second, third and fourth grades (8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades (12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.); and on Aug. 18 for incoming kindergarten students.

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