JCPS reopening plan updated; vaccinations for teachers could arrive this month

JCPS reopening plan updated; vaccinations for teachers could arrive this month

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The next phase of coronavirus vaccination will include Kentucky teachers but the timeline for when that starts is still unclear.

In Jefferson County, public schools won’t resume in-person learning until teachers roll up their sleeves; that could happen as soon as late January.

During a Board of Education meeting Tuesday, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio updated the district’s COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout. In a previous meeting, he had said some students could return to classrooms in mid-February depending on the vaccination schedule.

“We truly see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Pollio said. “We don’t know exactly when that light is right now, but I do believe we see an end, and that we will be coming back to school sooner rather than later.”

In a survey, close to 13,000 JCPS employees requested the COVID vaccine as of Dec. 30. Pollio said Tuesday the district asked the state for just as many doses, but the timeline for when they’ll arrive is not set in stone; neither is the amount that will initially be received.

“We don’t know how many of these vaccinations we are going to get in three to four weeks and how many of the grade levels we will eventually be able to clear,” he said.

Gov. Beshear has said Phase 1B, including vaccinations for teachers, could start as soon as Feb. 1, give or take a week. Pollio told board members that Jan. 25 would be the ideal date to adhere to that schedule so he hopes it “comes to fruition.”

When the vaccines arrive, teachers will be vaccinated at Broadbent Arena from the lower grade levels up, from K-12. Pollio said it would take about 7,000 vaccines to reopen elementary schools, and nearly 12,000 doses to reopen all schools.

He added that JCPS teachers will be receiving the Moderna vaccine, which requires 28 days between the first and second dose.

“Our goal once implemented the vaccination schedule, our goal will be to bring you a recommendation to open up in-person school as quickly as possible,” Pollio said.

Students still would be given the option of a virtual academy when in-person learning resumes. What’s more, Pollio said Tuesday that small groups including ECE and ESL students could come back before others in their grade to provide additional support.

It is still unclear how the district will handle the 1,900 JCPS employees who declined the vaccine. Pollio and district lawyers told board members accommodations could be made.

The board also discussed athletics and voted unanimously to allow limited individual and small group workouts for winter sports, but not full practices or person-to-person competition. The board will revisit its decision at its next meeting Jan. 19.

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