Fayette County to announce Tuesday if students will return to classroom Feb. 8

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fayette County Public Schools are scheduled to announce Tuesday if students will return to the classroom the week of Feb. 8, 2021.

Acting superintendent Marlene Helm said at Monday’s board of education meeting that the return will happen when the data and science permits.  Students have been learning online since the pandemic hit last March, with the exception of limited face-to-face instruction as part of targeted services.

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Whenever students return to the classroom, the school district say it will happen in stages, beginning with kindergarten through second grade.

One of several factors being considered for returning students to the classroom, is the rate of staff vaccination against the coronavirus.  School personnel began receiving the first vaccine last week.

The district also says free breakfast and lunch will be available to all students, regardless of income, when students return to the classroom.  Students who choose to continue to learn online only can pick up meals at schools.

When students return to school, they will be required to wear masks and socially distance.  A note from a medical professional on letterhead will be required for students who ask for an exemption from wearing a mask.

The district also announced the creation of a free app that provides daily updates on the In-Person Learning Matrix and additional information about the district’s return to in-person learning. The app called “FCPS (KY) Matrix” is available in the App Store and Google Play.

The school district says return to school protocols for every school will be posted by this Friday, Jan. 29.

It was also announced at the board meeting that to improve air quality, HVAC upgrades are being made in 19 schools with the oldest systems, including the addition of UVC lights.  At schools with more modern HVAC systems, the district will run those systems longer, starting earlier each day and later in the evenings to improve air quality.

The district says it has already purchased and stocked more than adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) including disposable masks, KN95 masks, clear shields, face shields, safety glasses, gowns and gloves.

Also at the meeting, there was a preview of plans for in-person summer programs at every school in the district and extended learning opportunities for students during the 2021-22 school year as part of ‘recover learning’ after so long with online learning only.

BELOW IS THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S SUMMARY OF THE BOARD MEETING:

As part of our commitment to providing timely, clear, and accurate information to students, staff, families, and community members, we are please to provide a recap of our monthly school board meetings.
WELCOME & RECOGNITIONS
Board Chair Tyler Murphy welcomed those members of the public watching the school board meeting online, before inviting Heidi Reihing, FCPS Facilities Manager & Coordinator of Special Events and Projects to present the recognition portion of the agenda.
Since January is National School Board Appreciation month, Reihing shared messages from the following individuals:
  • Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton
  • Commerce Lexington Board Chair Ray Daniels
  • FCPS Equity Council Chair Bret Nathaniel
  • Fayette County Education Association President Jessica Hiler
  • Fayette County Educational Support Professionals Association President Tonyia Coles
  • 16th District PTA President Penny Christian
  • Acting Superintendent Marlene Helm
SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
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.
Highlights Included:
  • An update on the Jan. 25 Fayette County Public Schools COVID-19 In-Person Learning Matrix.
  • Information about professional learning provided since last summer to help teachers transition to remote learning, guidance developed to ensure engaging instruction for a return to in-person learning and identify individual student needs.
  • A preview of plans underway for robust in-person summer programs at every school in the district and extended learning opportunities for students during the 2021-22 school year.
  • The creation of a free app that provides daily updates on the In-Person Learning Matrix and additional information about the district’s return to in-person learning. The app called “FCPS (KY) Matrix” is available in the App Store and Google Play.
  • A report on HVAC upgrades at 19 schools with the oldest systems in the district, including the addition of UVC lights. Work is already complete at Beaumont Middle, Booker T. Washington Elementary, Dixie Elementary, Julius Marks Elementary, Lafayette High, Paul Laurence Dunbar High, Rosa Parks Elementary, Southern Elementary, Southern Middle, Tates Creek High, The Learning Center, and Winburn Middle. Construction will take place next at Eastside Technical Center, Henry Clay High, Northern Elementary, the Preschool Center, Rise STEM Academy, Southside Technical Center and the former Johnson Elementary building. Air purifiers will also be available for all classrooms in these 19 schools. At schools with more modern HVAC systems, the district will run those systems longer, starting earlier each day and later in the evenings to assist with indoor air quality.
  • A reminder that the district has already purchased and stocked more than adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) including disposable masks, KN95 masks, clear shields, face shields, safety glasses, gowns and gloves.
  • News that FCPS employees began receiving vaccinations last week. According to a report from the University of Kentucky, 5,422 doses have been given to K-12 employees, including both public and private school staff.
The board then previewed videos developed by Tates Creek High and Veterans Park Elementary as examples of communication schools are providing to families.
CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS
Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson shared the January construction highlights, including plans for a secure vestibule to be built for the Carter G. Woodson Primary Academy that will open in August 2021. This will bring the total to 29 schools where secure vestibules have been added. He then reviewed progress on the new Tates Creek High School building.

 

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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.