Education

Families in Jefferson County Public Schools have until Wednesday to sign up for the district’s virtual elementary school. Pathfinder School of Innovation is a fully online option for families who aren’t ready to return to in-person learning in the fall.

JCPS originally planned to expand their existing virtual high school, Jefferson County High School, into the middle school grades. But last week, the Jefferson County Board of Education voted to include grades K-5.

Most elementary school students aren’t eligible for vaccination from COVID-19 because of their age. Meanwhile, the highly contagious delta variant is causing a surge of cases in Jefferson County, mostly among unvaccinated people. 

Students who enroll in Pathfinder will have all new teachers and no longer be enrolled at their current brick-and-mortar school. JCPS says ESL services and special education services will be available.

The district says “students will have a rigorous curriculum and be held to the same high academic standards as their on-campus peers,” and that JCPS will provide devices to students who need them. 

The virtual option for the elementary grades is only approved for one school year, and is still awaiting the final greenlight it expects from the Kentucky Department of Education. District spokesperson Mark Hebert said after the 2021-2022 school year “we will make every effort to get those students back to the school they came from.”

Meanwhile, students who enrolled in Pathfinder for middle or high school are not guaranteed their spot back at their previous school. Hebert said students in grades 6-12 would have to reapply to return to any magnet school. Registration ended June 4 for students in grades 6-12. As of early June, 262 new students had enrolled.

Families with students in grades K-5 can enroll here for Pathfinder. 

Otherwise, students will return to full-capacity in-person learning on August 11. Masks will be required for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. The district also said it will try “to the greatest extent practicable” to keep three feet of space between students, and six feet of space around any adult.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.