Education

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) superintendent Marty Pollio said the district will follow Gov. Andy Beshear’s guidance that schools stay closed to in-person classes through the end of the year and continue in non-traditional instruction, or NTI, through the last day of school. Here’s what you need to know.

When Is The Last Day of School?

Pollio is moving the last day of school for JCPS up a week, from June 3 to May 27, pending approval of the JCPS board of education. Following the governor’s guidance to extend the closure, the Kentucky Department of Education changed its NTI rules to allow districts to count more hours of NTI per day toward the 1,062 instructional hours per year required by state law.

In a call with reporters Tuesday, Pollio said the change will allow JCPS to hit 1,062 hours by May 27.  He wants to end the school year as soon as he can.

“As we move into May, there is the potential that many of our parents will be returning to work,” Pollio said, noting that parents are trying balance work with supporting their children’s NTI. “It just becomes more challenging by the day for parents.”

How Will Work Be Graded?

Like many districts, JCPS is trying to balance rewarding students for good work, without punishing students who may be less able to participate in NTI due to circumstances outside of their control.

For elementary and middle school students, teachers will grade students as having “met” the standard being taught, or “not yet met” the standard.

“If a student has ‘Not Yet Met’ a standard, the teacher and family will work together to establish a plan to help the student meet their goals,” an email to parents from JCPS reads.

In high school, the district said students will still receive letter grades. But any grade they receive during NTI can only improve the GPA they had on March 12, the last day students were in the classroom. A district spokesman said no student’s GPA can fall below what it was on March 12.

Students who do not participate in NTI will receive a grade of “Incomplete.”

“There will be plans for high school students to make-up work if they receive an “Incomplete” in a course,” a JCPS email to parents reads.

Students and families can find their report cards at the JCPS Parent Portal. Report cards will not be mailed, due to building closures. Elementary school grades from the last grading period are already up. For middle and high school, grades from the last two grading periods will be combined and posted at the end of the year.

Will There Be Graduation Ceremonies?

Pollio has promised that there will be graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020, however, they may not take place until the fall.

“It’s heartbreaking for our seniors,” Pollio said.

Pollio said the district is working on “innovative ways” to celebrate seniors during the next six weeks. He said he’s meeting virtually with a group of seniors to discuss ideas.

Will There Be Summer School?

Yes, but it will most likely be virtual. Pollio said the district is working on creating a summer learning program based on the same platforms being used during NTI.

“We are going to identify as many students as possible over the summer to provide intense supports,” Pollio said. But those supports will probably not take place in a school building.

“Following the conversation with the governor, we have real concerns whether we will have any opportunity to have face-to-face traditional-type summer school programs,” he said.

When Will School Start In The Fall?

Pollio guessed that students would ultimately return to the classroom in mid-August, based on conversations with the governor and guidance from the White House on the administration’s phased approach to reopen the country.

But nothing is certain. Polio said he’s also concerned about a “worst-case scenario” in which there is a reemergence of the virus after the start of the school year that forces schools to close again.

What About Fall Sports?

Many fall sports teams typically start practicing during July, but Pollio suggested it would be unlikely teams will begin practice that early this year.

“Those being large gatherings with a lot of physical interaction in sports, we’re just going to have to monitor that situation,” he said. “Clearly there is the potential for a delay for fall sports beginning.”

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.