The Corbin Board of Education heard from several parents during its special called meeting on Thursday who want students back in the classroom.

Corissa Dryer spoke at the meeting.

Because the Zoom meeting made Dryer’s comments unintelligible to those watching online, she shared her statement on her Facebook page.

“At this point in the school year, I believe I can speak for a lot of parents when I say we feel defeated, our children feel defeated,” said Dryer who has a five-year-old at Corbin Primary and a fourth-year-old at Corbin Preschool.

Dryer said she was not there for her children, but for the children of parents who couldn’t be at the meeting.

“The ones that have been lost in the world of virtual school, haven’t logged on in days, weeks,” Dryer said. “Straight A’s to straight D’s. The children who needed school to be the escape from reality, because their reality is something you nor I had to face at their age and wouldn’t dare to dream of for our own.”

Dryer said while she understands that some teachers may fear in person learning because of the pandemic, she also understood that the board may take the potential response of the teachers or the Kentucky Education Association into consideration.

“I feel like the students aren’t being put first,” Dryer said. “And they are the reason why this board and these teachers’ jobs exist.”

Dryer added that instead of just coming to the board with the problem, she was willing to offer a few suggestions for potential solutions to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Her solutions included;

• Keeping virtual options available for all students.

• Easing into in-person learning with the hybrid model.

• For teachers in the vulnerable population, ensure they could teach virtually with a note from their physician.

• Seek students from Union College and/or University of the Cumberlands education programs to fill the void created by the lack of substitutes.

“Better yet, put them in the classroom to help coordinate a classroom while the teacher instructs virtually if need be,” Dryer suggested.

• Have the custodial staff focus on the high touch areas, such as bathrooms during the day.

Dryer also brought up the fact that Laurel County schools have continued to offer in-person school despite being a red zone county on the COVID–19 incidence rate map.

Dryer also brought up the fact that while students aren’t attending class, sports and other school activities are continuing.

“It continues to baffle me that we are letting one group of students have some sort of normalcy while completely turning the cheek on the other,” Dryer stated adding that as a former coach she loves sports.

Schools in Whitley County had been using virtual learning from the time classes began in early September. After Gov. Andy Beshear placed the decision on how students would attend back in the hands of local school boards, Corbin, Whitley County and Williamsburg had each planned to resume classes using the hybrid model on Sept. 28. However, with the county’s COVID–19 incidence rate rising into the red zone, the school systems delayed the return.

During a special called board meeting on Oct. 6, Corbin Board of Education Chair Kim  Croley and Superintendent Dave Cox noted that individual surveys completed by faculty asking for their feedback indicated teachers were concerned about reopening the schools because of the high incidence rate.

At Thursday’s meeting, Croley commended Dryer for the idea about going to the colleges noting it was not something anyone at Corbin schools had put forward.

“We can’t make a change right this second,” Croley said.

“It is not anything we don’t know,” Croley added.

Cox added that in the speaking with the teachers, and reading the surveys they completed, it isn’t that the teachers don’t want to be in the classrooms with students because they want a vacation.

“They have legitimate safety concerns. People are scared!” Cox said of the teachers adding that he has had teachers tell him that they have lost family members because of COVID–19.

“I know our teachers. None of them want more than to be back in school safely. They are in it because they love kids,” Cox said adding having seen the teachers doing virtual teaching, it is twice as hard as being in a room full of students.

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