Majority of JCPS Board members support remote start to fall semester

A majority of the Louisville school board members say JCPS should start the new school year with remote instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The JCPS Board of Education is set to vote on a finalized back to school plan July 21. 

JCPS will present two proposals, one starting the school year remotely and another allowing families to choose between in-person classes or 100% online learning.

The in-person pathway allows students and teachers back in the classroom, while also giving families the option to choose a virtual academy with kids staying at home.                          

A majority of the Louisville school board members say JCPS should start the new school year with remote instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference Thursday, superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said he also recommends a remote instruction start to the fall semester. 

“I am in alignment with our board members,” Pollio said. 

The remote start will be for the first six weeks of the semester. The plan that will be presented also supports a later start to the semester on August 25. 

RELATED: Pollio recommends JCPS remote start for fall semester

WHAS11’s FOCUS team reached out to each of the district’s board members for comment and they mostly stand in solidarity with having an online learning semester while conceding it may be a struggle.

Diane Porter (District 1) said she will not confirm how she’s voting, but calls NTI the safest and most responsible way to start school. To make that possible, she said she wants all students to have Chromebooks and internet connectivity. 

“As our COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, we have to be extremely careful with the safety of everyone, which means our children, their parents, and our staff,” said Porter. “Even if we don’t have children coming into schools, we need to provide instruction at the highest level, which means everyone should have access to a Chromebook and Internet connectivity.”

Chris Kolb (District 2) called remote learning “far from the best case scenario,” but the most likely solution to keep teachers, students and their families safe. 

“I was hopeful the virus would continue its downward trajectory, and we may be able to have some in-person activities, but that is impossible at the moment,” Kolb said.

James Craig (District 3) says 100% of resources should be devoted to virtual learning. 

“This is an incredibly difficult time, both locally and nationally,” said Craig. “Until we can guarantee the safety of every student and JCPS employee, my view is that we dedicate 100% of our resources to ensuring that virtual school is as good as it can be.”

Joe Marshall (District 4) echoed Craig’s sentiment, saying NTI represents the “safest” option to combat rising coronavirus cases. 

“NTI is the safest route to begin fall instruction,” said Marshall. “With a strong community effort to decrease our rising cases, we can hope to return to buildings safely in the near future.”

District 5’s Linda Duncan called NTI the only realistic option for JCPS.

“For me, the only safe, realistic option right now is NTI,” Duncan said. “I just can’t imagine which group to sacrifice for this — our teachers, our bus drivers, our nutrition staff?”

Chris Brady (District 7) said that while NTI is not ideal, it is “the best of the bad options we have to choose from right now.”

“Given the complexities and logistics of school, I don’t see how we can have in-person instruction and keep students, staff, and by extension the community safe until we have a vaccine or rapid testing is available to everyone,” Brady said.

While Corrie Shull (District 6) could not be reached, the board members who have responded expressed overwhelming support for students to start the school year at home, calling in-person classes too risky.

In a press conference Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear said he understands that the district has a bigger risk than others due to the number of students. 

“It appears me to that JCPS is being thoughtful,” Beshear said. 

Beshear went on to say that any district that prioritizes safety has his full support.

Additionally, according to a recent survey from the Jefferson County Teachers Association, JCPS teachers overwhelmingly support a virtual learning start.

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