LEXINGTON, Ky. — Fayette County Public Schools outlined some possibilities for bringing kids back to school this fall.
FCPS Superintendent Manny Caulk announced they are looking at welcoming back students the week of August 24, using a new model of on-campus, face-to-face instruction.
“This is later than our school district normally starts, but this change allows us to take advantage of the flexibility afforded in state law to have a shorter school year, which could prove crucial if intermittent closures are required,” Caulk said.
Kentucky schools must provide at least 1,062 instructional hours during a school year of at least 170 days. A 2017 law passed to promote tourism in Kentucky by starting the school year later allows districts which start no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 to have fewer than 170 days, given that they meet the hour requirement.
A task force, consisting of students, families, teachers, health officials, principals and district leaders, has been working on the reopening plan since April. It has looked at the pros and cons of face-to-face instruction, virtual learning and a blend of both approaches.
While people want to know specific plans, Caulk says safety has to be the primary consideration.
“With each passing day, it seems the only thing we can be certain of is that the situation we face with the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to evolve as scientists learn more about the virus, public health officials revise their guidance, and cases rise or decline not only in Fayette County, but across Kentucky, the nation and the world,” he said. “The uncertainty and disruption of in person learning since mid-March has been and continues to be a challenge for all of us. I am concerned not only about the instructional time we have already lost with our students, but also about their social and emotional well-being and the toll the pandemic has taken on our families.”
FCPS is considering several possible options for when it reopens, each option involving considerations for academic instruction, supplies and materials, student support, family engagement, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, facilities, transportation, food service, cleaning, health and screening protocols, human resources and communications.
The district will launch a survey for families to voice their opinions on the possible instructional models July 1.
“Those voices will be critical in making decisions that work best for Fayette County,” Caulk said. “If we have learned anything these past few months, it is just how much families and schools can accomplish together.”
Whatever the final plan may be, Caulk said it will prioritize health and safety, respond to and respect individual circumstances, maximize opportunity for in person instruction, reflect best practices and provide flexibility for changing circumstances.
All decisions will be made in accordance with requirements from federal, state and local health authorities.