After two weeks, Jessamine Co. Schools are anticipating a ‘normal’ school year

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Gillian Stawiszynski

Contributing Writer

Summer is long gone now with school back in session. Jessamine County Schools kids had their first day on Wednesday, Aug. 10th.

Email newsletter signup

“This year, we’ve seen very little impact with COVID, and we’ve started back in COVID with masks being optional. I can tell you the first week of school, we did have about 23 students who tested positive, but that has very little impact on our transition back to in-person instruction,” said Superintendent Matt Moore.

According to a few principals, most students choose not to wear a mask. A handful of students and staff in each school are still wearing masks.

As of Aug.18th, the seven-day average for COVID cases in Jessamine County is 22. This data is part of a slight uptick in cases since April but far lower than the last winter. It is crucial to consider that at-home testing is now available, and these case numbers may look a bit different depending on the rates of reporting these at-home test results. COVID isn’t quite over, but this may be the most normal school year Jessamine County families have seen since before the pandemic.

“I think what I’m looking forward to the most is having a traditional school year in Jessamine County. I feel like Jessamine county has that tradition of providing just an excellent foundational program for our students, and I think the thing that’s also special about Jessamine County is there’s a lot of creativity in our classrooms and a lot of innovative practices,” said Moore.

To gauge the severity of cases, JCS looks at how the community is impacted, along with the impact on students, staff, and surrounding counties. Superintendent Moore said that they had seen a minimal effect with COVID so far, and this has a few principals excited about the year to come.

Principal Andrew Pickerell of East Jessamine Middle School is starting his 10th year as principal and his third year at this school.

“We had a great couple of days so far … I don’t know if it’s because of the masks- that we could see all faces fully, but it just felt like there were extra smiles this year. A lot of great positive energy and excitement from both students as well as the adults,” said Pickerell. “[Staff] just do whatever it takes for the benefit of their students. I think because of that, we have students who feel that energy and feel that love.”

This year, the county has seen a jump in its student population. Superintendent Moore says it is welcome but shocking. JCS is anticipating having as many as 600 students, more than forecasted last year.

This increase is due to population growth in Jessamine County and students moving from homeschool and private school to public schools.

Principal Brady Thornton of West Jessamine High School said they had gotten new students from outside Kentucky and the country, including Ukrainian refugees.

“It’s higher than it’s been in the last four years, and I think probably the highest number we’ve had. We are at about 1,320 kids,” said Thornton.

Prospects for the upcoming year are generally positive.

“I feel like this is the first time in several years where we’ve been able to welcome parents back into the building and work on and strengthen those family partnerships. It was refreshing to be able to do that this year,” said Brookside Elementary Principal Nick Schuerman.