FRANKFORT, Ky. — The new year brings about big decisions for school districts all across the Commonwealth. Many are tackling the question of when to return to in-person instruction and how to do so safely.

What You Need To Know

  • Some school districts returned to in-person instruction this week

  • Several other districts waiting until at least Jan. 11 while others have yet to decide

  • Students weigh in on the return to in-person during Student Advisory Council meeting

  • Students split on when, how districts should return to in-person learning

Somerset Independent Schools, Estill County Schools, Taylor County Public Schools, Trimble County Schools, Henry County Schools, and Spencer County Schools all returned to in-person instruction this week. This comes despite Gov. Andy Beshear's recommendation to delay in-person classes until at least Jan. 11. Following that recommendation, several other districts in the state plan on starting in-person instruction Jan. 11. Other districts like Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) have yet to decide on an in-person return date.

How did students feel about the return to in-person? That's something Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass set to find out during a Dec. 8 Student Advisory Council meeting.

Students provided input about what they think would be the best way to handle school in the new year. At the time, most of them expressed that returning this week or next would not be the best move.

“I think with the holidays, especially New Year’s, giving it that extra couple weeks to level off would be smart,” South Oldham High student Miles McGinnis said.

Some felt that mid-January would be an appropriate return date. Others think it would be best to wait until sometime in February.

Many had trouble putting an exact date on a return to class, instead suggesting that it should be left up to local health officials to decide when it would be safe to return to class in their area.

“It should be more up to the families and up to the districts whenever we do go back in person,” Elizabethtown High School student Gavin Breunig said.

With that being said, other students preferred Beshear setting state-wide recommendations, as they feel their local officials will not make the right call.

“Before we went on a state mandated NTI shut-down, my county was in the red zone, but my school decided to go back full-time, despite the fact that we were in the red. That definitely brought up a lot of concerns,” Larry A. Ryle High School student Vivian Heredia said.

Many on the Council brought up concerns abut mental health during NTI. Some also said they do not feel like they are getting the same quality of education online.

Daviess County High School student Sam Smith said there are options to continue to serve students who need it most in-person without having everyone go back.

"Our school is having all the failing seniors, which is about 30 people, come into the school and doing class that way," Smith said. "I think there are more ways than just all hybrid or all virtual.”

Both JCPS and FCPS have yet to set a time frame for a return to in-person instruction. Both districts are hosting board meetings Tuesday.