JCPS parents express concerns over Non-Traditional Instruction

JCPS parents concerned about possibly starting school year at home

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On Tuesday, the Jefferson County Public School Board will vote on how the district will start the 2020-2021 school year.

One of the options is a return to the Non-Traditional Instruction program, the same form of learning JCPS shifted to in the spring of 2020. Students will learn remotely using Google Chromebooks. However, in the past few weeks, JCPS leaders have told WAVE 3 News a return to NTI would not look the same as it did in the spring.

The district’s Chief Academic Officer Dr. Carmen Coleman called it “NTI 2.0,” and said district leaders are planning to have more live and recorded instruction and more frequent communication with parents and students.

With that said, parents like Marcoleah Dean are still worried. Her family is one of several within the district where several children were forced to share one Chromebook, due to the spontaneous shift from in-person to remote learning.

“Honestly, from the NTI last year, I don’t feel like they learned anything,” Dean said.

Dean is a single, working mother of five children. All five of her children are enrolled in the JCPS system. During NTI in the spring, all five of them shared one Chromebook, making it hard for them to keep up with their work.

“[I was] just trying to divide the time between the kids for everyone to do their assignment,” Dean said. “And I work in the daytime so there’s only so much monitoring I can do to make sure that they’re doing it.”

Alia Chamber shares Dean’s concern. She spoke to WAVE 3 News in April, detailing her recent move to Louisville and her decision to enroll two of her children in JCPS. Ninety days later, Chambers is preparing to enter a third child into the school system while she maintains her job as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

She’s hoping all three will not have to share one Chromebook.

“I have to log off to one, log in to another,” Chambers said, “teach this child one thing and then teach this other child another thing, and it’s kind of stressful. Because our brains, we can only function to a certain extent, and then work on top of that. It’s rough.”

JCPS leaders told WAVE 3 News they are trying to alleviate the problem. According to a JCPS spokesperson, the district used $15 million from the CARES Act to buy 30,000 more Chromebooks in order to help families with several children. JCPS is also expected to give families NTI-to-go kits, containing traditional school supplies like pens, pencils, and notebooks.

Both Chambers and Dean told WAVE 3 News the help will be welcome because balancing work and school is difficult.

“[When you’re] trying to make sure that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do and still coming to work, it’s a lot,” Dean said. “And I’m a single parent. It’s a lot to deal with and I’m struggling with it.”

A JCPS spokesperson said more details on NTI-to-go kits and Chromebook distribution will be available after the board makes an official decision.

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