Kentucky: The Largest School District Brings Back Masking Requirements

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As of Monday, the most populous county in Kentucky has returned to the red zone for COVID-19, which means that the state’s biggest public school district has brought back its policy requiring students to wear masks.

After the county’s COVID spread reached the red level, the state’s highest level, Jefferson County Public Schools announced the change of policy. The Kentucky Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have told the district to take precautions in areas where the disease is common.

The mask policy applies to all JCPS facilities as well as the buses. In addition, the school district will have masks available for any students, staff, or guests who may need one.

Also, the JCPS COVID Guidance Plan, which was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Education last week, says that children and adults who qualify for the exemption may not have to wear masks.

JCPS plans to conduct classes in person five days a week when the district’s schools resume classes on August 10.

The guidance plan emphasizes the need to provide students with both classroom education and emotional assistance.

People on social media were divided on whether or not to support or condemn the move to bring back face masks.

When it came to Kentucky’s new governor, it was met with outrage. “Countless times it has been proven that cloth masks do NOT reduce the transmission of a virus. Instead, they interfere with our children’s ability to focus, learn, and properly communicate with each other. 1 in 7 of KY’s students attend JCPS- and parents are justifiably furious,” state Rep. Savannah Maddox, R-Dry Ridge, tweeted.

During the weekly briefing he gave at the conclusion of the previous week, Governor Andy Beshear pointed out that the number of reported cases throughout the state was on the rise. He urged parents to get their children vaccinated and to consider giving them a booster shot as well. “We just want people to have the information to be able to make the best decision that they can,” the governor said. “I want as normal of a school year as we can get. Just remember, if numbers are up, the more boosted we are, the more likely we are to have the most normal school year possible.”

More than two-thirds of Kentuckians, or almost 3 million people, have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to statistics from the Kentucky Department of Public Health, and around 2.6 million people, or about 57%, are deemed completely vaccinated. In spite of this, just 1.2 million people have gotten a booster injection. A complete vaccination rate of no more than 48 percent is seen in any of Kentucky’s school-age demographic groups.

Teacher Crowned Miss Kentucky 2022

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Hannah Edelen has been crowned Miss Kentucky 2022. Over the weekend, the Northern Kentucky University alumna from Covington was crowned Miss Kentucky and will represent the state in the Miss America pageant later this year in Connecticut.

The Springfield, Kentucky-native has just added another big achievement to her outstanding record.  Edelen, 24, said he couldn’t always take part in the program due of budgetary constraints. It was just a few years ago that She decided to take a risk and compete.

Crowned at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, “I couldn’t help but think about all the people who really helped me to where I am today,” she said.  Her mother’s fight with a brain tumor and her father’s infirmity led to financial and marital problems in their troubled household, where she grew up.  “My brother and I, we saw a lot of how that affected their livelihood and well-being,” Edelen said. “It really hurt us growing up, and we had our own challenges.”

Edelen opted to move north to attend Northern Kentucky University, where she was voted student body president and became the first member of her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.  After working as an educational assistant in the Covington Independent School District, Edelen enrolled in the Teach for America program and became a licensed teacher by teaching sixth grade at Holmes Middle School in Covington.

She is now pursuing her studies at the University of Kentucky, where she earned a master’s degree and is working towards a doctoral degree. In addition, she’s running for a seat on the Covington City School Board in the next November election.

For Edelen, Miss Kentucky is a chance to expand her work in education, despite the fact that pageants are notorious for their elaborate gowns and sashes.

After all, one of the benefits of competing in the Miss Kentucky pageant is the opportunity to win a scholarship.

During the “pitch” round of the competition, Edelen explained the Read Ready Kentucky initiative, an attempt to encourage young readers to pick up a novel. When Edelen competes in Miss America, she will broaden her message about Read Ready America.

Edelen’s skill in clogging helped her to get a higher score in the evening’s talent competition, despite the fact that her primary priority in both her professional and pageant life is education.

“I’m hoping for my students that they see this as an example of how to look at their own life,” Edelen said. “A lot of our students have a lot of adversities. All throughout my time at Covington, I always told my kids to never let their environment define who they are or what their future will look like, but to define it themselves.”

She was overcome with emotion when talking about her triumph since she was thinking about her kids. It is Edelen’s aim that by sharing her own personal narrative of how she overcame challenges in her early life to become an accomplished student, she would inspire others.

This month, Edelen finished her final school year with Covington Schools and has already had job offers from other school systems and companies. In the meantime, she will be Miss Kentucky, a full-time position that involves promoting the Kentucky Proud state program, which certifies products manufactured in the state.

Nationally, Kentucky’s Teacher Salary And Student Expenditures Have Fallen

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The National Education Association’s annual study shows Kentucky’s average teacher compensation falling from 35th to 36th in the country last school year.

Over the last decade, when inflation is taken into account, the average teacher income in Kentucky has decreased by more than 11 percent.

There is a scarcity of teachers in Kentucky, according to a representative for the Kentucky Education Association (KEA).

“The best way to recruit and retain high-quality educators is to pay a professional salary,” he added, stressing that many instructors may transfer their expertise to the private sector where they may make more.

Kentucky’s average teacher compensation climbed slightly from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021, according to the NEA, which reported a rise from $53,907 to $54,139. However, the modest rise was not enough to keep pace with the bigger increases in other states..

In comparison to the rest of the country, the average teacher income in Kentucky is $11,000 less.

Compared to teachers in West Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, and Indiana (all of which pay less than $50,000), the state’s teachers are paid more. Teachers in Ohio ($63,082) and Illinois ($70,705), on the other hand, earn much higher money.

Kentucky’s average teacher compensation, according to the data, has risen slightly to $54,574 for the current school year.

For per-pupil expenditures, Kentucky slipped from 32nd to 35th nationally, with an average expenditure of $12,103 per student in 2020-2021. Compared to other states, it has the second-lowest per-pupil expenditure rise in the country.

An analysis conducted by the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy found that, when inflation is taken into account, the state’s contribution to per-pupil financing has decreased by 26% since 2008.

After rejecting a proposal from Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, the Republican-led General Assembly of Kentucky enacted its budget this spring without giving teachers increases. A 8% pay hike for non-school state workers was approved by the legislators.

In the wake of the General Assembly’s 8 percent increase for all state workers, Patterson stated, “I think most teachers would consider [it] a slap in the face to be carved out of that.”

In order to offer teachers with increases, Republican leaders said school districts may employ a little increase in total per-pupil education expenditure.

“Be Yourself”: KY Teacher Resigns After Message Written On Classroom Board

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After receiving anger for a note he wrote on a classroom whiteboard urging kids to “be yourselves,” with a reference to the LGBTQ and transgender individuals, a music instructor in Estill County has resigned.

Tyler Clay Morgan posted on Facebook on Monday that he had resigned from his position as principal of West Irvine Intermediate School in Irvine, Kentucky, which serves kids in grades three through five.

Morgan did not explain why he quit in his statement, and he did not reply to a Courier Journal request for comment.

However, multiple social media posts from late last week and over the weekend claimed he said “You are free to be yourself with me.” “You matter!” he wrote on a whiteboard in his classroom, above which he drew an LGBTQ rainbow flag and a flag symbolizing the transgender community.

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Morgan said he authored the remark and posted the photo to his personal Facebook account. He has declined to comment further and has requested privacy to “grieve and process.”

“I still firmly believe more work needs to be done in Kentucky, especially in Eastern Kentucky, to ensure that more resources are provided to make sure all students feel safe, secure, and seen, not just the ones that come out as part of any community or share hardships,” Morgan wrote Monday in a separate post. “My hope is that every educator that sees this is empowered, passionate, and actively working to make a change in the world of education as I am.”

Several social media users who had sent comments in favor of Morgan said that as a result of the message, he had been suspended or faced other disciplinary penalties.

In a statement released Monday, Estill County Superintendent Jeff Saylor did not clarify what penalties Morgan may face, but claimed “misinformation” about the event had circulated in recent days.

Saylor claimed his problem was with “conversations that went place during class,” not with the language Morgan used in the mail. Teachers should assist kids, but should also direct them to school counselors when “tough events and circumstances” are discussed, he added in his statement.

“I firmly believe that students and their parents expect teachers to teach content about their assigned curriculum in a subject area,” his statement said in part. “Of course, there are times that conversations may vary from that day’s lesson plan, but these conversations went far beyond the music curriculum. It is my job to make sure that parents are not surprised by these types of situations.”

Saylor stated that the situation had been “handled and closed” and that he had no further comment. His statement omitted specifics concerning the talks he claimed had occurred.

Estill County is roughly a two-hour drive from Louisville and is located southeast of Lexington.

Students Surprise Favorite Teacher With His Dream Shoes

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A high school class at a northern Kentucky high school pooled money together and gifted their teacher a pair of Air Jordans to show their appreciation.

Credit: Students Surprise Teacher With Air Jordan 11s He Always Wanted, Youtube, T&T Creative Media

“Seeing a teacher that honestly and genuinely cares about their students and works to relate to them and act as a friend is rare, especially with all the added stress this year with COVID,” Griffin Morris, a student in Mr. Holbrook’s class, told Fox32 in an article published Wednesday. “We all had come to love him as a teacher and decided to show him that we felt that way. The decision to do something was unanimous.”

Griffin happened to ask Kyle Holbrook, an A.P. US History teacher at Conner High School, about his favorite pair of Air Jordans.

“He started to go on and on about different styles and that’s when we realized how much he loved Jordans. He mentioned he never really could get a pair when he was younger because as everyone knows, Jordans are expensive shoes,” Morris told the outlet.

“Ever since I was a kid, I have dreamed of owning Jordans but unfortunately never had the money for them,” Holbrook told the outlet.

The students in the class put roughly $400 together and purchased a pair of Air Jordans for Holbrook. The kids gifted the teacher the shoes on the day of their A.P. exam, according to Fox.

“My first reaction was disbelief as I have never received a gift of this magnitude from students,” Holbrook reportedly recalled. “As a person, it shows how the youth can think above themselves and act in a selfless manner. As a teacher, it was a huge positive end to a tough year.”

Kentucky Teacher Mails Snowman To Florida So Students Can See Snow

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Photo by: Courtesy of Amber Estes

Some students in the Sunshine State were fortunate enough to experience snow for the first time this winter.

No, it hasn’t snowed in Florida this year, but a teacher in Tampa got a special delivery to her classroom earlier this month.

Robin Hughes, a former Kentucky teacher who now teaches in Florida, got the idea to ask her sister, who still lives in Kentucky, for a snow shipment after coming to the realization that just two of her students had ever seen snow in person, according to LEX18.

“So I said, ‘I want you to make me a snowman, and I want you to overnight him to me and see if he can make it to the school’ because I want these children in Florida to see snow,” Hughes told LEX18.

Hughes’ sister, Amber Estes, hesitated at first, but then agreed. When a heavy snowstorm hit Kentucky in January, Estes made Lucky, a snowman that would make the trip of a lifetime.

“So we put him inside the packaging, we wrapped him up in that foil, and we put ice packs in, we sealed him up, there was Styrofoam around the box. Off he went down to the local UPS store,” Estes said.

Hughes said Lucky is a huge hit in her classroom — and is one of the reasons she loves her job so much.

“So then we went to the classroom and had the kids open it and just the pure joy of seeing that snowman … It was just … To me, that’s what teaching is about,” she said.

To keep the teaching moment alive, Lucky will be turned into a plant when it melts.