Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said at a virtual town hall Monday night that he knows parents and staff all want to know as soon as possible how school will look this fall.
However, he said that's just not a decision the district is ready to make yet.
"Whatever we do, this is going to be a challenge and a struggle," Dr. Pollio said.
As parents and teachers flooded the district's virtual meeting with more than 600 questions, Dr. Pollio said the upcoming school year "won't be easy." Right now, there are several ways the year could look.
The district is considering one pathway of providing in-person learning, with students and teachers back in the classroom, while also giving families the option to choose a virtual academy with kids staying at home.
"I want nothing more than to have in-person instruction," Dr. Pollio said.
The other pathway would be if the district chose to close schools and have full NTI throughout the fall semester.
"It's concerning with the larger class sizes, how it's going to work on the bus, keeping the mask on the younger kids, so right now I think there's a lot of questions," Andrea Scholtz, the parent of an 8th grader in JCPS, said.
Scholtz said she wants her son back in the classroom, but isn't sure how all of the safety protocols will be fully implemented and enforced.
"Right now the uncertainty of knowing how that's going to be handled every day, I think that's definitely giving me a little bit of worry right now," she said.
During the town hall, other parents expressed concerns, asking questions about mask enforcement, social distancing in hallways, classrooms, and on buses.
"We want to be flexible with families so they have options to make changes but we will be asking for a certain commitment for a period of time so we can make those staffing and transportation decisions," Dr. Pollio said in response to a parent wondering if families can change their minds about keeping their child home or sending them to school.
Several parents asked about how the district plans to handle positive COVID-19 cases that may arise during the school year.
"We're working on ways we can monitor the illness at the district level so we can watch for clusters of cases so we can act quickly," Eva Stone, the district manager of health, said.
District officials also said Monday night that any plans the district makes could change as the year unfolds, depending on a rise in cases and the ability to staff the schools.
At a meeting next week, the JCPS Board of Education will decide whether or not to push back the first day of school to August 25. Dr. Pollio, the teachers' union, and parents have all supported pushing back school by at least two weeks, to give teachers time to train and more time to observe state COVID-19 data.
As of right now, the first day of school for JCPS is scheduled for August 12.
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