JCPS will continue virtual learning until May 27, JCPS Board approves new last day

Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio told local media Tuesday morning that JCPS will follow state guidance to cancel in-person instruction for the remainder of the year.

JCPS+Super+Dr.+Marty+Pollio+addresses+questions+for+local+media%2C+including+Ysa+Leon%2C+OTR+Editor-in-Chief+%28third+from+left%29.

JCPS Super Dr. Marty Pollio addresses questions for local media, including Ysa Leon, OTR Editor-in-Chief (third from left).

Words by Ysa Leon, Sylvia Cassidy, and guest contributor, Reece Gunther

Students will not return to in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio told media on Tuesday, per guidance from Governor Andy Beshear. 

“I know that is pretty devastating for many of our seniors — a lot of our students — this is the time of year where we have great activities that celebrate seniors and students at the end of the year but we have to follow the guidance that safety and health are number one for us,” Pollio said.

The JCPS Board met to approve the adjusted school calendar, which will now put students’ last day of school as May 27, following a state recommendation for NTI school days to account for seven hours of instruction, instead of the original six hours and fifteen minutes. This enables JCPS to meet the state-required 1,062 hours of school instruction.

Additionally, students may have to complete online work during the summer, as part of regular interventions for students who fall behind during the year. The number of students to be a part of this group, however, may increase this year as JCPS looks to continue closing the digital divide.

“We have real concerns whether we will have the opportunity to have any type of face-to-face, traditional-type summer school classrooms,” Pollio said.

At the press briefing earlier today, Pollio noted that he was satisfied with the NTI participation for the first two weeks, far exceeding his original expectations with 94% participation in week one (April 7 to 10) and 93% in week two (April 13 to 17). JCPS has seen 86,403 students log into Google Classroom during week two alone. However, JCPS estimates that teachers and admins have been unable to connect with 6,400 students across all grade levels.

“We definitely don’t want to harm kids, we want kids to meet the standards, but we’re gonna give them multiple opportunities to get there — whether that be in the summer or in the fall,” Pollio said. 

The district isn’t pretending that NTI is a sufficient replacement. Pollio says the district is currently planning on utilizing Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing sometime early into the 2020-2021 school year to assess student progress. 

Beginning the year with exams won’t be the only change for JCPS students. Classroom instruction may look a little different when students are allowed to return. 

“Masks could be a part of a reality for school in 2020-2021 for a time period,” Pollio said.

In addition to masks, Pollio said the district has considered allowing students to attend school in waves categorized by graduation classes, but they haven’t made any decisions. Pollio says that the Board is focused on what they can do for students in the immediate future.

This includes the mental health of all students, Pollio promised on Tuesday. Mental health counselors are giving services virtually, but “it is not easy to do that with so many people all over the county.” There’s no denying that these virtual sessions aren’t the same as in-person counseling, but JCPS is dedicated to exploring other options to support students.

JCPS recently surpassed half a million meals served since the beginning of NTI and they have no plans to stop anytime soon, with plans to continue through the end of summer.

“I can’t say enough for how important that has been for our students and families that they know that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday they can get meals for the entire week, and we will continue to do that for the rest of the school year and we will immediately move into summer feeding,” Pollio said.

Despite the superintendent’s promise of in-person graduation ceremonies, Governor Beshear casted doubt on that notion. Pollio has now shifted his proposal to fall or winter commencement ceremonies where seniors will be invited back whenever it is deemed possible to congregate in large groups.

“We will have school-by-school commencement ceremonies where we will invite our seniors who will be graduated by that time to come back and celebrate that commencement ceremony. We think it’s so important that we do that and we will work hard to make sure that happens,” Pollio said. “Seniors, our hearts go out to you for this time and we’re gonna celebrate you as much as we possibly can while following those social guidelines.”