FCPS working to make last day of school May 27

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fayette County Public Schools will ask its board of education to make May 27 the last day of school.

The school district says it will meet its required number of hours of instruction for the 2019-20 academic school year on May 27.

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The school system plans to ask the Fayette County Board of Education at its meeting April 27 to make Wednesday, May 27 the final day of school.

FCPS adopted non-traditional instruction (NTI) for the first time in March when in-person classroom instruction was halted due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It was announced Monday that students will not return to the classroom this academic school year and will finish through online learning.

It is unclear when students will return to the classroom for in-person instruction.  That will be determined by the status of the virus outbreak and upon advice from health experts, state leaders and superintendents.  Some health experts fear a resurgence of the virus in the fall.

Below is a letter from Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk sent out Monday to school families:

Dear Fayette County Public Schools Families:

This afternoon, Governor Andy Beshear announced his recommendation that Kentucky schools not return to in-person instruction this academic year. As we watched the spread of COVID-19 across our nation and closed our schools in support of the Governor’s efforts to slow the virus in the Commonwealth, many of us had prepared ourselves for this possible eventuality. Even so, today’s announcement carries a finality that many of us hoped would not come to pass.

The Governor’s decision means we will extend our Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) through the end of the school year. Thank you for all you are doing to keep your children engaged in learning while they are at home. We understand that every family is unique, and we appreciate your collaboration and patience as we work to accommodate each circumstance.

Teachers, principals and district leaders are very sensitive to the fact that families are juggling a lot right now. While the implementation of Non-Traditional Instruction provides a way for us to keep students engaged in learning, it was never designed to be a long-term replacement for the learning that happens over the course of a day, week or month of school.

Each school is communicating academic expectations directly with families, but I want to assure you that work done during NTI will not lower any student’s grade. We will provide plenty of flexibility to help students complete work and allow safety nets for students who need additional help.

Kentucky’s Interim Commissioner of Education announced today that the state department of education will let each NTI day count as seven hours of instruction, which will allow us to end the school year sooner than originally scheduled.

School districts in Kentucky are required to complete a minimum of 1,062 instructional hours, but because of our commitment to prepare our students to compete in a global society, the regular school year in FCPS exceeds the minimum requirements. In these unprecedented circumstances, our longer year now provides flexibility in how we will adjust the calendar to meet the minimum hourly requirements. Prior to the implementation of Non-Traditional Instruction on April 6, students in FCPS had missed 11 instructional days (Feb. 6 and 7, March 16-19, and March 23-27).

If we convert Tuesday, May 19, 2020 (originally a day off for students because of the primary election) to an NTI day, our district will reach the 1,062 requirement on May 27, which would allow us to end the school year one day earlier than originally scheduled. At the next meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education on April 27, we will ask the school board to amend the instructional calendar to make Wednesday, May 27, the last day of school for students.

Under ordinary circumstances, the end of the school year involves a flurry of planning for graduation, promotion ceremonies, field days, arts celebrations, proms and other special milestone events. Unfortunately, COVID-19 remains a rapidly changing situation. Like you, we are looking to national, state and local health experts to advise us on when we can be together again. At this time, the Governor has said no in-person proms or graduation ceremonies can take place because our state has not met the requirements to enter Phase One of reopening.

We do not know what the next six weeks will look like for our community, but we do know how important these traditions are for our students, staff and families. Please be assured that we are actively exploring possible ways to safely celebrate the end of the school year and the accomplishments of our amazing young people. We will continue to share information as it becomes available.

In addition to our core purpose of educating children, while our schools remain closed, we will continue to:

  • Prepare and distribute free breakfast and lunch for children at 21 school pick-up locations. Meals for multiple days are available on Mondays and Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Any individual 18 years of age and younger can pick up meals at any location; not all children need to be present.
  • Work with community partners to provide supplemental meals to families in need. Since new offerings are being developed constantly, anyone seeking information about these resources should call the United Way of the Bluegrass 211 Contact Center for the most up-to-date information.
  • Keep health clinics open at Cardinal Valley, Tates Creek and William Wells Brown elementary schools, and Lexington Traditional Magnet School to serve students and families. Please call HealthFirst Bluegrass at 859-288-2425 to check on availability and see which clinic is best suited for your needs.
  • Support more than 3,000 families with weekend food through our Family Resource and Youth Service Centers. We are especially grateful to the Jenna and Matthew Mitchell Foundation at Blue Grass Community Foundation and The Calipari Foundation for making it possible to support hundreds of families during this unprecedented emergency.
  • Respond to and support the social and emotional well-being of youth and families with our District Mental Health Professionals. To reach this service, call 859-381-4100. If you are experiencing an immediate mental health crisis, please call the New Vista Crisis Hotline at 1-800-928-8000. This is a local service.

Being apart has made connection more important for all of us. Through phone calls, emails, videos and virtual meetings, our staff is continuing to reach out to the students and families we serve. Please help us keep lines of communication open by staying in touch with your child’s teachers.

Your Partner,

Manny Caulk

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.