A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Fayette County Public Schools look to reopen week of Aug. 24 with new model of on-campus instruction

Fayette County Public Schools is looking at welcoming students back to school the week of Aug. 24 with a new model of on-campus, face-to-face instruction, Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk has announced.

“This is later than our school district normally starts, but this change allows us to take advantage of the flexibility afforded in state law to have a shorter school year, which could prove crucial if intermittent closures are required,” Caulk said.

Kentucky requires schools to provide a minimum of 1,062 instructional hours during a school year of no fewer than 170 days. Under a 2017 law aimed at supporting tourism in the state by starting the school year later, the General Assembly allows districts that begin the school year no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26 to have fewer than 170 school days as long as they meet the instructional hour requirement.

Manny Caulk

A task force of students, families, teachers, health officials, principals and district leaders has been working on a reopening plan for Fayette County Public Schools since April. The group has examined the pros and cons of face-to-face in person instruction, distance or virtual learning, and a blend of both approaches.

While everyone is anxious to make specific plans for the 2020-21 school year, Caulk said, safety has to be the primary consideration.

“With each passing day, it seems the only thing we can be certain of is that the situation we face with the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to evolve as scientists learn more about the virus, public health officials revise their guidance, and cases rise or decline not only in Fayette County, but across Kentucky, the nation and the world,” Caulk said. “The uncertainty and disruption of in-person learning since mid-March has been and continues to be a challenge for all of us.

“I am concerned not only about the instructional time we have already lost with our students, but also about their social and emotional well-being and the toll the pandemic has taken on our families.”

At this time, he said, the state’s second-largest school district is considering several possible configurations when it does reopen. Each reopening scenario involves considerations for academic instruction, supplies and materials, student support, family engagement, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, facilities, transportation, food service, cleaning, health and screening protocols, human resources, and communications.

On July 1 the district will launch a survey asking families to weigh in on the possible instructional models and share their thoughts about sending their child back to school. Families can take the survey at www.fcps.net/survey.

“Those voices will be critical in making decisions that work best for Fayette County,” Caulk said. “If we have learned anything these past few months, it is just how much families and schools can accomplish together.”

Caulk said the district’s reopening plan will:

• Prioritize health and safety.

• Be responsive and respectful of the individual circumstances facing students, families and employees.

• Maximize the opportunity for in person instruction.

• Reflect best practices about wearing masks, practicing social distancing, sanitizing hands and surfaces, health screening and temperature checks, and contact tracing.

• Provide flexibility to accommodate changing circumstances with the pandemic.

Every decision made will be in accordance with requirements from federal, state and local health authorities including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Kentucky Governor’s Office, Kentucky Department for Public Health and Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

From Fayette County Public Schools

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One Comment

  1. D says:

    Reopening when the COVID-19 Pandemic is raging on, unchecked is not only insane, but dangerous and deadly!

    How many lives must we endanger because the president wants to be re-elected at all costs?!??!!

    I fear the consequences to our young school children.
    They simply do what they are told. As parents, we must protect them…at all costs.

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