LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio announced Thursday that he will recommend to the school board to begin the 2020-21 school year with at-home learning.
The board is scheduled to vote on the matter Tuesday.
“None of our options are ideal,” he said about the start of the new school year amid a global health crisis that has claimed the lives of nearly 140,000 Americans and more than 580,000 people worldwide.
“The risk is just too great right now to come back,” Pollio said. “I will always err on the side of student and staff safety.”
Pollio said for the first six weeks of the school year, the district will provide non-traditional instruction.
“At the end of September, we’ll review the number of cases and determine if it’s safe to return to in-person instruction,” he said.
JCPS is calling the recommended plan NTI 2.0. Pollio stressed the plan would be a more robust, improved version of NTI compared to what students and teachers experienced at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
Pollio said they are planning to make sure all students have a Chromebook and if they need it, a hotspot, in order to stay connected.
JCPS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Carmen Coleman said this version of NTI will look different than it did in the spring.
“We are also looking at providing NTI to-go kits that includes school supplies and other items to help support equity,” Coleman said.
Coleman said the plan will look more like a traditional classroom experience, with more live video and recorded instruction and more opportunities for interactions with classmates and teachers.
"It is not our intent to have kids in front of computers for six hours a day," Coleman said.
Pollio said the district needs to be better about providing support and services for students and parents. He said the district is looking at community organizations that are willing to help with support for students.
Ballard High School teacher and coach LaKunta Farmer said in the spring, he was hopeful they would be back in the classroom this fall.
"Just some type of normalcy so we can go back to school and have face to face learning," Farmer said. "Those interactions with kids and people are healthy in and of itself so [I was] just wanting that back."
Farmer said his kids attend JCPS schools so he understands parents’ concerns over started the year off with NTI, juggling work, and helping kids with school.
"I have to make sure and had to make sure in the spring that I made a structured environment that goes back to learning and wake them up at a certain time," Farmer said. "Make sure they are doing whatever lesson and make sure they are getting things done."
He said he wants his kids to go back to the classroom, but not at the risk of being unsafe.
"I want mine to go back to the classroom as well, especially my 16-year-old because I feel your junior year is one of the most vital years of your high school career," Farmer said. "At the end of the day, I want him to be safe. I don't want him to come home and be sick. He's got grandparents he's got to go around all the time. I'd rather be safe than sorry later on."
Farmer told WAVE 3 News he applauds Dr. Pollio’s recommendation for starting the year off with NTI and looking out for safety first.
With 2,000 students at Ballard High School, Farmer was concerned about what the school year may look like with that many students in the building at one time.
"I just didn't want it to take away from teaching and learning, more distracted putting masks back on versus teaching the lesson. So that was a concern," Farmer said.
The school board will vote on whether to start the year off with NTI on Tuesday at 7 p.m.