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Lee County public schools could start 2 to 3 weeks later

Lee County school superintendent Gregory Adkins said Monday he will recommend the school year start two to three weeks later than scheduled.

Public schools in the district are scheduled to start Aug. 10, but Adkins wants to delay the start to Aug. 24 or 31.

How The School District of Lee County handles the pandemic impacts every student, their family, their teachers and the whole community around them. Few know that as well as school counselor Susan Patti in Lee County.

“Let’s see if we can minimize those visits to the classroom, where myself, as a counselor, has to come in and talk about why so and so’s dad, is no longer with us,” Patti said.

And specially-trained counselors are just one part of recommendations on how to go back to school in Lee County.

“Meeting the social-emotional needs of students because we know that this is having an impact,” Adkins said. “It’s raising anxiety across the community and our nation.”

Adkins told WINK News very much depends on how many students stay home.

“This is unprecedented,” Adkins said. “We’ve never seen anything like this before, and I think, at the end of the day, we don’t know until the end of the day how many are actually going to show up.”

Adkins says they do have a plan if there’s a spike in cases. That plan includes steps like closing classrooms or even whole schools if need be. Adkin’s made it clear the district will adjust recommendations to stay consistent with the latest research.

“We are going to continue to keep examining our mask policy,” Adkins said. “And I would look forward to possibly a change in that in the very near future.”

And those headed back to school told us they hope they’re trained well on how to handle this future school year.

“It’s going to be even better now that we’re going to be given this time to get better training and given the time to do that,” teacher Carolyn Staehle said.

The mother of a Lee County student we spoke to said the start date should be pushed back even further.

“The numbers are just getting bigger and bigger each day,” Rachael Ballard said. “I don’t think it’s safe for anybody to be going back to school right now.”

Meanwhile, Adkins told us he believes his recommendation is the only proper way to reopen for the 2020-21 school year in Lee County.

“A prudent course of action because it gives us an opportunity to really work more on our guidelines. How do we reopen school,” Adkins said. “It also gives hopefully an opportunity for the spread of this virus to take a downward trend and give us a safer reopening.”

Adkins admits the District is still working on its guidelines

The school board is holding an emergency meeting on Thursday and will discuss the issue.

“Let’s not add a layer of trauma to what we’re doing now to try and get through this pandemic,” Patti said.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Sydney Persing
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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