LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It was a smooth first day back for Jefferson County Public School students to online learning. 

What You Need To Know

  • JCPS returned to NTI for at least a week on January 11

  • Students and teachers made a smooth transition from in-person to online learning

  • JCPS is offering curbside meals at 105 schools during NTI

  • Classes are expected to resume on January 18


With two rounds of nontraditional instruction (NTI) in the books, students and teachers are better prepared for NTI 3.0. 

Hazelwood Elementary School 3rd grade teacher Randi Esarey spent Tuesday sharing new vocabulary words virtually with students. 

“Beautiful friends I want to talk about this word ‘unfamiliar’. What does unfamiliar mean?” Esarey asked student over Google Classroom, 

Esarey will tell you quiet halls and empty desks are unfamiliar at Hazelwood Elementary.

“I miss them already. Like I'm using the coffee mugs that my students brought me. Having that here makes me feel like they're here with me. It makes me feel more of their teacher but seeing the empty desks and seeing them on the computer is definitely not the same,” says Esarey. 

Though their hearts weren’t ready to send students back to online learning, school principal Courtney Grace says their plans were prepared

The school started getting ready a little over a week ago as COVID cases crept higher and higher.

“We actually held practice virtual meetings inside our classrooms and as they could click those links from Google, this is how we're going to get on, these our expectations. Where's the mute? Where's the camera?,” says Grace. It's a joy because we know that what we are providing them is the instruction that they need right now. We haven't stopped pressing forward with our goals.”

JCPS’s third time with NTI seems to be the charm. Teachers are running into fewer issues, now that students have experience with NTI. 

“Learning from home is very difficult and not something that I would have been able to do when I was their age, so I've really been able to see all their struggles, all their trials and know how much they've grown,” says Esarey. “I have been really impressed with their resiliency. They know how to adapt. They know how to work with the technology in a way that I'm still like, making myself familiar with.”

First-grade teacher Sumer Smith says students were excited to hop online to learn and talk to classmates. (Spectrum News 1/Ashley N. Brown)

First-grade teacher Sumer Smith says her students spent the day using a mix of technology and paper material.

“We still want them reading books and guided reading. We still want them picking up a pencil and writing words, so the expectations are the same but the delivery is definitely different,” says Smith. 

Smith is eager for students to return but she is enjoying the chance to get to know students better. 

“My students have pets and I would have never been able to see their dog if I weren't on a Google Meet with them,” says Smith. I think additionally, we wear a mask at school, so being on the computer, it's like their first time seeing my whole face, and I think that makes it kind of neat,” says Smith. 

For school staff, nothing compares to the in-person classroom community and flexible learning schedule. 

“It's really nice to blend those two together because nothing replaces a master teacher in a classroom with books in hands and pencils and hands. You can't replace that with technology but you can enhance the instruction that does take place,” says Grace. 

“It's definitely heartbreaking not having them here, so I hope that everything can be resolved so that we can see each other learning in person more,” says Esarey. 

In person classes are expected to resume on January 18. 

JCPS will be serving meals during NTI at 105 schools across the district. (Spectrum News 1/Ashley N. Brown)

JCPS is offering curbside meals at 105 of its schools during NTI to anyone 18 and younger. The next curbside pickup is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Click here for a list of curbside school locations.