JCPS lays out updated back to school plan, still uncertain when in-person classes will resume

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 12:30 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - JCPS laid out an updated plan Tuesday to re-open schools, which includes giving parents the choice to return to in-person instruction or continue with virtual learning. However, it’s still unclear when exactly JCPS schools will open.

Jefferson County is now a Kentucky “red” zone with high COVID-19 numbers, so JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said there’s still no date for when in-person instruction will resume.

The updated back to school plan includes requiring everyone to wear a mask, checking temperatures checks daily, and practicing social distancing. Pollio also said when the district re-opens, they plan to do so gradually, starting the first week with elementary and pre-K schools, then in week two, sixth and ninth grades, and in week three, seventh and eighth and 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.

There would also be a hybrid model for middle and high schools, where students would attend in person two days a week, to allow for social distancing.

Pollio said he understands the frustration as a JCPS parent himself, but that the district is going off of what the state is telling them, especially now that Jefferson County is in the red.

For Michele and Garrick Edison, Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) wasn’t terrible in the spring because Michele wasn’t working in March. The couple said NTI 2.0 has been much worse.

“I’m over it,” Michele told WAVE 3 News. “I feel like I’m failing my son because when you have two working parents in the family, it’s really hard to designate the time that’s needed for a second-grader.”

The Edisons are both working full time now and have two kids in JCPS. They are concerned about their kids falling behind.

“Whether he’s on there at 9 or not, if he’s not on there, we’re falling behind,” Garrick said about their second-grade son. “If my dad has to watch him, he doesn’t have the hotspot wifi all the time, so we’re behind. So we get behind real quick, and that’s what a lot of people, we’re running into.”

They said the schools and teachers have been incredibly helpful and understanding, but the experience as a whole has been incredibly overwhelming.

“As we look at the work that’s due each day and then we see all the missing assignments, it’s even more stressful,” Michele said. “Because quite frankly, I just feel like I’m failing [my son]. Should I resign my job? What do we do?”

Their second-grade son, Golden, said he’s ready to go back to school.

“I’m just mad that I can’t go back to school,” Golden said. “I miss all my friends and all my teachers.”

They would like to see options to allow kids to return in person soon.

Michele Edison, along with single mom Alyson Cleyman and hundreds of others, is in a Facebook group called “Let Them Learn.” The group wants JCPS to have an option for in-person learning sooner than later.

Cleyman has two daughters in JCPS: one in 3rd grade and one in 6th grade who has special needs.

“They are begging to go back to school,” Cleyman said. “My biggest thing for me is the amount of screen time they are having. My third grader started having headaches, she’s cried, she says her eyes hurt.”

She’s not able to work because she needs to stay home with her daughters to help with NTI.

“For me, I don’t have any family. I grew up in the foster care system. I don’t get child support or any assistance that way. So I’m stuck at home doing NTI with my kids,” Cleyman said.

She said her autistic sixth-grader refuses to stay with anyone but her or teachers in school, which makes it difficult to get a babysitter.

“I’m just not working right now,” Cleyman said. “Currently right now I get $100 a week in unemployment benefits. That’s it. Which basically covers your essentials. I don’t know what they expect parents to do.”

She’s concerned about what will happen when evictions start back up and how many kids and families will end up homeless.

She, along with other parents in the “Let Them Learn” group, wants to see kids back in classrooms in person as soon as possible.

“Give parents the right to choose. Let the parents who want to stay at home with their kids, by all means stay home with their kids. But allow the people who need their kids to be in school to have that option," she said.

Pollio said the district is going off of what the state is telling them, especially with Jefferson County in the red with COVID-19 cases.

“We have to focus on what the state gives us and the metrics the state has provided us,” Pollio said during Tuesday’s board meeting. “We are red. And I want to be clear with this statement right here: this is not only the state health department that has us in red. The White House has named us as a red county. The White House has named us as one of the red counties in the state of Kentucky. And the White House recommends we have no large gatherings. The CDC has also named Jefferson Couty a red county. And once again, no large gatherings. So I understand the frustration, but the state health department, the CDC and the White House are all in line with what they say the problem is with outbreak in Jefferson County.”

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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