FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is recommending all Kentucky schools delay in-person lessons until Sept. 28, but school superintendents and the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) say the decision should be made locally. 

What You Need To Know

  • School superintendents, KSBA say decision about return to school should be made locally

  • Interim Joint Committee on Education hears from KSBA, superintendent, others

  • State lawmakers join in on the conversation

  • KSBA estimates 18 school districts going against Beshear's recommendation

The Interim Joint Committee on Education heard from KSBA, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, and Spencer County Schools Superintendent Chuck Adams who all said they would prefer to have local control. 

“Our local school board members are frustrated and shocked by some of the things that had been said and done about schools, about them, about teachers and so forth,” said Eric Kennedy, director of governmental relations for KSBA. 

The school supervisors say each district is different, and therefore, requirements for the districts should be too. 

“There is so much diversity across the communities of Kentucky, that there really should not be a one size fits all approach to this issue for providing education and reopening school,” said Kennedy. 

Adams added his district of 3,000 students should not be treated the same as Jefferson County Public Schools, the state's largest district. 

“There has got to be the ability to make choices from the local level that best fits the individuals,” he said. 

Several Republican lawmakers agreed with the associations and expressed concern that student needs will not be met by starting the school year off virtually. 

"I'm more concerned and fearful for them not to be able to have these basic needs met, than I am of them contracting the virus,” said Rep. Regina Huff (R-Williamsburg) before noting she does believe how serious the virus can be for certain people.

Superintendents also expressed concerns that recommendations were more mandates. Adams says the Beshear administration informed superintendents the Kentucky Board of Education, Kentucky Department of Public Health, and an executive order could force schools to stop in-person instruction if a teacher or student tests positive for COVID-19. 

“The recommendation was not a recommendation at all when you hear the consequences that was associated with that recommendation,” he said. 

The committee also heard from a parent and Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) instructor who is opposed to pushing back the start of in-person lessons, citing the low death rate for children who catch the virus. Those in support of Beshear’s recommendation, however, say children attending school could carry the virus back to vulnerable family members. 

"I really do have a concern about kids even though the statistics are low for them, but then when they go home to Grandma and Grandpa or Mom or Dad who has diabetes or cancer or whatever,” said State Rep. Mary Lou Marizan (D-Louisville.) “While it might be .001% with children, if you are the one out of the thousand that dies and it is your kid, all the other ones don’t matter.” 

Democrats also expressed concerns that no teachers were invited to testify in front of the committee about their reaction to the recommendations. 

“I am concerned that the voices of educators is not at the table,” said State Rep. Tina Bojanowski (D-Louisville). "In Jefferson County, the teachers polled two to one against going back to school in person and that was before the numbers increased.”

Republican members of the committee say the recommendations and rules being put into place by Beshear in response to the pandemic are inconsistent. 

"We've have been thought this whole ordeal consistently inconsistent,” said State Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville). "When we have Kentucky Kingdom, shopping malls, other places that children probably have congregated this summer at different ages and have also gone home from there in those locations.”

KSBA estimates 18 school districts are going against Beshear’s recommendation to hold off on in-person classes until Sept. 28.