Parents hope JCPS walkthroughs signal return to in-person learning

On Monday, JCPS offered in-person tours of two schools to show how school staff have prepared for a return to in-person learning.
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 7:58 PM EST
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This classroom in Central High School is just one example of how schools would look if the...
This classroom in Central High School is just one example of how schools would look if the Jefferson County Board of Education votes to return.(WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As many in Kentucky wait for access to the COVID-19 vaccine, many parents in Jefferson County are waiting on a decision by the JCPS Board of Education on whether or not students are going back into the classroom this school year.

WAVE 3 News took a tour of both Gutermuth Elementary School and Central High Magnet Career Academy on Monday to see how JCPS schools will function once schools reopen to in-person classes.

At Central High School, hallways were converted from two-way to one-way and classrooms and cafeteria tables were spaced out to comply with social distancing guidelines.

The new physical changes come despite a lack of clarity from the board about when students could or would return to the classroom, but Central’s principal Raymond Green said his staff is prepared to welcome students back as soon as the board allows them to.

“The best that I can do right now is prepare to come back,” Green said. “I want us back. I want to see our kids. So that’s the best that I can do. I can’t predict the future on that one.”

Some JCPS parents like Alyson Cleyman are hopeful the changes are a sign of good things to come.

“[It’s] an absolute disaster,” Cleyman said while describing her family’s experience with Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI). “It is horrific.”

Cleyman, a single mother, has been trying to guide her two children through NTI since last March. One of her children is autistic, and she told WAVE 3 News NTI has caused her child to regress in her development, so much so that Cleyman quit her job to spend more time with her children.

“My daughter won’t stay with a babysitter or go to a daycare,” Cleyman said. “I’m left with no choice but to stay home with my children, and that’s just the way it is. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Steve Ullum, another JCPS parent, feels the same way. The single father has balanced working with helping his daughter learn virtually.

Ullum told WAVE 3 News his daughter is not performing as well virtually as she did during in-person instruction. He also said she has not seen her friends in a year, a reality many other students have been dealing with as well.

“They’re stuck in the same house day after day with their parents doing absolutely everything,” Ullum said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you have with your child, children need a break. They need something else.”

Other parents, district employees and board members have expressed concerns about a return to in-person learning, which is why both Ullum and Cleyman believe parents should have the choice whether to send their children back to school or not.

“The right to choose is for everyone,” Cleyman said. “The right to choose to keep them at home or to send them to school is for every parent.”

As of Monday, Jefferson County was dropped into the “orange zone,” meaning the county’s incidence rate dropped below 25 cases per 100,000 people.

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