LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Jefferson County Board of Education made it official on Tuesday night. Students will start school this fall with at least six weeks of virtual learning, or Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI).
Teachers are reacting, some pleased. As Fayette County Schools decides how to start the new year, Math Intervention Teacher Laura Hartke is speaking out for herself and as an education advocate with the group KY 120 United. She applauds the all-online plan in place for Jefferson County kids.
Hartke hopes her district will make a similar call and that the voices of educators are being taken into account.
"I feel like we are being used and forgotten about," said Hartke.
She's anxious about the possibility of returning to a classroom in person, although she does miss teaching face to face
"I don't feel okay with it at all," she said.
Coronavirus cases are surging across the country and in Kentucky. That's why JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio felt most confident in his recommendation for NTI to the Board Tuesday.
"I am more confident than ever today that we are making the right recommendation to you tonight, on how we begin the school year virtually for at least six weeks so that we can ensure the safety of our health, the safety and health of our faculty, staff and students is ensured," said Pollio.
Hartke's main concern is for the vulnerable populations that staff schools.
"School buildings are not [run] by children. They're run by adults, and a lot of us are not young and immunocompromised and facing a really big ordeal. I know a lot of my friends and myself are taking a deep breath and wondering if we'll be finding a new career. It's a lot," said Hartke.
"Our biggest concern at KEA is making sure that the educators have, or play a big role in the creation of those plans because they are gonna be the ones that are in the classrooms with their students and are gonna be doing the distance learning," Kentucky Education Association President Eddie Campbell told Spectrum News 1 Tuesday.
Hartke feels that one factor causing some parents to voice support for a return to in-person learning is the need for daytime care for kids.
"I don't think that it's their fault that school is somewhat of a babysitting service. I think that's just what society has done. School has become the heartbeat of almost every need that families have with much of the economy depending on parents having day-time care for kids," she said.
The Fayette Board is set to decide its final back to school plan Thursday night. The first day of NTI in Jefferson County will be Aug. 25.