District leaders present plan for return to in-person classes
During the Dec. 14 school board meeting, Acting Superintendent Marlene Helm and members of the district leadership team provided additional information about plans to return to in-person learning when conditions allow. Helm began by recognizing the heavy lift shouldered by staff and families since the start of COVID-19 in Kentucky last March, and acknowledging the fervent desire of students, families, and employees to return to school campuses.
To guide those decisions, district leaders have developed the Fayette County Public Schools COVID-19 In-Person Learning Matrix, which provides specific metrics outlining when students will be able to return to campus. The tool, which builds on the state’s color-coded incidence rate map, includes five stages based on the average daily COVID-19 cases in Fayette County. The method also incorporates orders from the governor, student and staff absences, isolations and quarantines, operations and support considerations, community vs. institutional spread, community trends, and vaccine uptake.
In an effort to be transparent while prioritizing the health and well-being of students and staff, this approach is both data-driven and safety-minded. The goal is to minimize the likelihood of COVID-19 exposure and maximize in-person learning opportunities.
Although district leaders will track data daily, decisions for each upcoming week will be made on Tuesdays according to the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Fayette County:
- 3.3 cases or less: Stage 1, green, low risk: All schools are open. Curriculum delivered on campus via face-to-face instruction, with blended learning strategies that integrate digital resources. FCPS will monitor and be prepared to respond to identification of COVID-19 positive tests that affect staff members or students. Additional health and safety guidelines may be enacted in consultation with the county health department.
- 3.3 to 33 cases: Stage 2, yellow, minimal risk: Schools are open for in-person learning. However, short-term closures may occur for COVID-19 affected classrooms or buildings. These short-term closures may be impacted by one or more transition factors and will be communicated by the school and district.
- 34 to 83 cases: Stage 3, orange, moderate, but increasing risk: Schools are open for graduated in-person learning. Short-term closures may occur for COVID-19 affected classrooms or buildings because of transition factors. These closures will be communicated by the school and district.
- 84 to 132 cases: Stage 4, red, significant risk: FCPS will consider moving to remote learning, with targeted services provided for students who need extra support. Based on FCPS transition factors and the FCPS COVID-19 In-Person Learning MATRIX, a graduated in-person learning model will be considered.
- 133 cases or more: Stage 5, purple, substantial risk: All schools are closed. Students are not physically attending school and are completing coursework through Non-Traditional Instruction: Differentiated Distance Learning (NTI/2DL).
Regardless of the in-person learning stage, remote learning will be provided five days a week for students whose families prefer that option.
The team also announced that winter break will be extended by three days for students, which will provide staff time to prepare for a return to in-person learning. In two weeks, specifics about the rollout for graduated in-person learning will be shared. Rather than starting all students back on the same day, consideration will be given to students who have never been in their schools before (such as sixth graders in middle school) and those who might need more time to learn routines.
(Posted Dec. 14, 2020)