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Kentucky officials describe back-to-school plans as pandemic continues

Amid pandemic uncertainty, major education groups testified about the difficulties of planning and paying for a return to normalcy.
Credit: Chris Williams
Kentucky school officials discussed how to address returning to school even as districts struggle to keep up with the changing COVID-19 pandemic.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Officials for three major education groups discussed their issues or concerns with the upcoming school year during a hearing in Frankfort Tuesday.

The hearing focused on how to keep kids safe when they return and what the price may be for trying to return to normal. The Kentucky Education Association reminded officials that teachers will be front-line workers as they return to the classroom this fall.

“If parents, educators and students do not feel safe, teaching and learning will be impacted," KEA President Eddie Campbell said. "Let’s face it, with schools reopening, we are asking our educators to step in at best a medium risk environment and they will be front line workers."

The organizations applauded the allowance of unlimited NTI days, but they were all concerned that state funding will not be enough to foot the bill for getting technology in the hands of students or covering costs of trying to maintain a quality education, asking the Kentucky Interim Education Committee to contact federal lawmakers for funding.

RELATED: Kentucky students must wear masks if less than six feet apart, state says

All involved expressed the importance of getting kids back into the classroom as the best chance at a quality 2020-2021 school year.

"The goal and the planning should be to have in-person instruction as much as possible, as safely as we possibly can mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission as much as we can," Eric Kennedy of the Kentucky School Boards Association said.

Districts are asking families whether they will want to return or request NTI. Paying for needed technology is a concern as is whether federal privacy laws allow for a child to take part in video conference learning, from home, to a classroom full of students.

But it's not just families at the center of uncertainty. The Kentucky School Boards Association suggested that some teachers may retire rather than deal with another COVID-19 crisis year.

“Some educators out there have talked about they are eligible to retire, they may choose to go ahead and retire because of all of this issue," Kennedy said. “We have seen discussions of teachers just wanting to resign or may be take a year off because of this, so that is a big concern."

Districts have been given guidelines for how to approach the school year, but districts are not required to have one specific plan. While Hardin County School announced the option between traditional and non-traditional learning, districts like Jefferson County Public School have yet to release any plans.

RELATED: JCPS to consider delaying start of school year by 2 weeks

RELATED: Greater Clark County Schools provide options for upcoming school year

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