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JCPS teachers lead first day of NTI from classrooms

At Hazelwood Elementary, teachers said the day went fairly smoothly. They hoped to have their students back in the classroom next week.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Tuesday, JCPS teachers headed into their classrooms, to teach virtually. It was the first of four NTI days for the district, in response to staffing issues from rising COVID cases.

WHAS11 shadowed teachers at Hazelwood Elementary, as they started the virtual week. 

Some, called the week NTI 3.0, referring to the other long stretches of NTI the district experienced during the pandemic. They said it was easier this time to plan lessons and make the switch to Google Classrooms. 

"Seeing the empty desks and seeing them on the computer is definitely not the same as a teacher," third-grade teacher Randi Esarey said. 

Esarey said NTI shows students' resilience, and she was proud of how her own group started Tuesday. 

"There actually was a hiccup, all of them got booted off the Google Meets and all of them got back on," she said of attendance. 

Hazelwood Principal Courtney Grace said teachers were anticipating a return to NTI and started preparing after returning from winter break

“We don’t know when the call was going to be made and so we started getting ready on Tuesday," she said. “We were told, you are prepared to send students off each and every day to where they might be in virtual instruction the next day.”

Grace said the next few days will be focused on math and reading, in a mix of instructional styles.

"We have students in small groups, we have students in whole group lessons, and we have students in one on one lessons," she said. 

Students see their regular teachers, just teaching virtually. They'll use a combination of synchronous and asynchronous work, and many sent their students home with physical workbooks and packets. 

"In first-grade, it's extremely important that students have a pencil in their hand and are writing and putting the things we talk about into practice," first-grade teacher Sumer Smith said. 

Smith said seeing her students from behind a screen did have one advantage -- many of them were seeing each other without a mask for the first time. 

"We don’t usually get to see each other's full face so it's been nice actually," she said. 

Esarey said one of the most impressive feats of NTI, has been attendance from her young students. 

"I am not sitting next to them, they are choosing to learn today themselves," she said. "Which is really impressive for third-grade." 

After this week, JCPS will have six NTI days left to use for the year, through state law. The district said any decisions about using more NTI days would likely come next Monday.

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