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'Daily assessments.' | JCPS sticking with day-by-day decision on in-person learning

District officials announced that students would be returning to in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 31.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Editor's Note: The attached video is from our original report on JCPS' decision to make daily assessments about in-person learning.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is making daily decisions on whether students will be returning to in-person learning for the next few weeks.

“We’ve got to make it through these next couple of weeks and hopefully we'll be able to return to a more normal schedule," Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said in a Jan. 24 press conference. 

The district announced classes will be in-person on Monday, Jan. 31.

Pollio and other school officials said that the number of staff absences at the district's schools has gone down in the past few days.

"We believe there are now enough staff members, substitute teachers, bus drivers and other staff available to safely reopen our school buildings," a letter to parents said.

As kids arrived back at Carter Traditional Elementary Jan. 24, principal Jamie Wyman said that was the case for them. 

“No classes are vacant, we have everything under control," she said. “With the masks, the contact tracing, the seating we have for the students, we continue to do what we know is best for our kids.”

RELATED: How JCPS plans to implement its new school safety plan

For teachers like Nicole Brown, it was a welcome relief after more than two weeks with students out of the building. 

“Seeing their faces on the screen just doesn’t give you that in-person interaction," she said. “They even come back just to see me and say 'Hey, Ms. Brown what are you doing in the classroom?"

KDE guidance on COVID-19, remote learning

The district had previously moved to non-traditional instruction (NTI) on Jan. 11 due to staffing shortages amid the omicron variant surge in Jefferson County.

NTI was extended through Jan. 21 to give students and staff time to complete their quarantines.

“Because we’re back in doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle staffing," Pollio said Monday. "We’re having to scramble.”

Pollio said some classes are being filled by substitutes and central office staff. 

“The subs come and do the best they can. I know we teachers plan stuff that’s fun for them to do with the subs," Brown said.

“I would love to have someone in my community that loves the school loves the kids like me," she said of volunteer substitutes. "So that when I’m out they can have someone to support them.”

According to Kentucky state law, school districts are given a total of 10 NTI days during the school year. Pollio said that JCPS has already used eight of those days so far. 

The district still has 10 remote learning days available. These, unlike NTI days, can be used to target specific schools, grade levels or classrooms.

Pollio says according to data from the past few weeks, high schools are the hardest to cover staffing issues since there are more classes to fill than in elementary school. Plus, Pollio said the older students are typically more successful with NTI learning since they don't need a parent sitting right there with them.

“Clearly if we have a choice," he said, "We’d like to get our elementary our youngest kids in and use those remote days for our older students, but it could be vice versa.”


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