Drastic changes planned at JCPS middle, high schools if in-person learning resumes

Drastic changes planned at JCPS middle, high schools if in-person learning resumes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Central High School could see one-way hallways, spaced-out cafeteria tables and nearly empty classrooms if the Jefferson County Public Schools Board of Education votes to return to in-person learning this school year.

An English teacher at Central is preparing for the possible changes. Ann Walsh, who teaches 9th grade English, told WAVE 3 News she is ready to return to her classroom for the sake of her students; most of them are freshman and have never set foot inside the school.

“Right now, I’m their only connection and the other teachers are their only connection to Central High School, and I want them to be a part of the big experience,” Walsh said. “It’s high school.”

Although JCPS elementary students would be back in class full-time if the school board votes to resume in-person learning, middle and high school students would be on hybrid schedules and only spend time in the classroom two days a week.

Central High School Principal Raymond Green said the goal of having alternating groups is to keep classrooms and hallways spaced out.

“We’ll have about 300 students in the building [at a time], and this building can hold 1,200, so I feel very confident about our ability to social distance,” Green said.

However, one longtime JCPS bus driver who asked to stay anonymous is not as confident, especially when it comes to the transportation plan; school districts aren’t required by state law to socially distance students on buses. In addition, the bus driver said it is the driver’s job to make sure students wear their masks.

“A lot of kids are not going to wear them,” she said. “We know they’re not; one of the big questions is, what is the discipline going to be if the kids don’t wear the mask?”

WAVE 3 News asked principal Green that question.

“We were all teenagers once,” Green said. “When there are behavior issues, our number one job is to call the parents, because we’re on the same team as our parents, and then from that we’ll follow the district guidance if a student is still not meeting the expectations.”

In previous school board meetings, district leaders suggested students will be moved to virtual learning if they fail to follow safety guidelines.

In addition, some JCPS employees told WAVE 3 News they’re concerned that even though 60% of the district’s students have plans to return to in-person learning, that percentage is not consistent across every school and grade level.

The Jefferson County Board of Education plans to hold a special meeting this Tuesday, however, members will not vote on a final back-to-school plan.

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