Education

Friday is the last day families in Jefferson County Public Schools can enroll their kids in online school for next year. The district is offering students in grades 6-12 the option to attend the Pathfinder School of Innovation, rather than return to a full-capacity classroom.

While children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, a spokesman for JCPS said the district will not offer online options for elementary school students.

JCPS’ website says the Pathfinder school day will be somewhat flexible, with both live lessons and curriculum that students can complete “asynchronously” at their own pace. Pathfinder is an expansion of the district’s existing virtual high school, Jefferson County High School, which has been around since the mid-1980s. Students already attending the online high school do not need to reapply for next year. 

The district says all students who apply will be accepted, and that English as a Second Language (ESL) and special education services will be available. The district will also provide students with a computer to access the classes. JCPS says while Pathfinder students will have the chance to do some extracurriculars, they won’t be able to participate in sports or activities at their previous school.

As of Thursday, 262 new students had signed up to attend Pathfinder in the fall, with between 31 and 50 students in each grade. That’s a tiny fraction of the district’s 92,000 students, suggesting the vast majority of students will be learning in-person this fall. Currently about 40% of JCPS students are fully remote, while 60% chose the district’s “hybrid” option, with two days a week in-person.

State law requires all districts to return to full capacity, five days a week next school year. The district expanded Pathfinder for students who aren’t ready to return to the classroom as the pandemic continues and for students who preferred the fully remote setting.

Other Kentucky districts have planned virtual programs as well, including Fayette County Schools, and Shelby County Schools. Both plan to offer a K-12 model. 

Here is where families can sign up for the online school.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.