FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – As we head from summer into fall, school districts across the Commonwealth are already starting to send kids back home due to rising COVID-19 cases.
This year, lawmakers passed a bill limiting districts to 10 days of Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI). There’s pressure for the General Assembly to hold a special session to approve more of these virtual days.
As COVID cases rise, school officials in Kentucky are balancing education and safety.
“We really believed we could go back on full in-person learning and we’ve made a good run at it for three days,” said Lee County schools superintendent Sarah Wasson.
Wasson said in Lee County, cases are ticking higher. Since July 19, 26 staff and 36 students tested positive. Four staff members are in the hospital. Now, Wasson is using five of the 10 allotted NTI days next week.
“We want in-person school, there’s no question that we want to be in-person,” Wasson said. “We also need to be able to keep everybody as safe as possible and right now my staff is really hurting.”
Superintendents say they want the flexibility to use NTI days without the worry of quickly depleting all 10 of them.
“Anytime you have to use NTI days, it’s always a difficult decision because you know this year we’re limited,” says Franklin County Schools superintendent Mark Kopp.
Franklin County is using half its NTI days next week also, after 89 students and staff members tested positive.
“It’s getting to a point right now that we’re trying to do everything, we can to help push those numbers down, so this was a clear choice for us from a data perspective,” Kopp says.
Changes could be on the horizon, according to Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers.
“We are aware of the circumstances,” Stivers says. “We can revisit that at any time during the session.”
Looking ahead, if the General Assembly returns for a special session, lawmakers could approve additional days of NTI.