FCPS’ School Board discusses October in-person learning, parents who oppose hold rally

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fayette County Public Schools’ School Board says it’s likely not going back to in-person classes until October.

It discussed learning options at its virtual Monday night regularly scheduled board meeting.

Meanwhile, a group of about 75 people rallied outside the FCPS main building on Richmond, calling for students to go back in-person now.

The group, ‘Let them learn – Fayette County,’ started as a online movement on Facebook. The admin, Greg Prince, saying he wanted a way to connect with families who also feel like NTI, non-traditional instruction, isn’t working.

“We think our kids need to go back to school, and if they can’t we need to know why, concrete reasons why,” Prince said.

The school board said it is listening to the community and hearing both sides of the on-going argument.

The reason it will continue to discuss is to allow more data to come out and see how the county is stacking up in terms of COVID-19 cases.

Prince helped set up an open letter to the school board, asking for more transparency.

Parents in Fayette County, Monday night, after the rally and the board meeting ended, received a letter from Superintendent Manny Caulk about the discussions taking place on returning to school.

It included a link to FCPS safety protocols and these options for learning:

“FCPS has identified three possible instructional models to be implemented based on the level of community spread of COVID-19 and infection rates in Fayette County:

  • Model 1: Traditional School – In-person instruction with preventative practices, processes and protocols.
  • Model 2: Hybrid Instruction – Alternating schedules for students between in-person and distance learning.
  • Model 3: Non-Traditional Instruction – School or districtwide distance learning as necessary. Options include targeted closure to isolate and disinfect affected areas, short-term closure to allow for deep cleaning of entire building, or extended closure for at least 14 days.”

At the rally parents argued for treating school like other businesses.

“Just take the safety precautions like every other business and every other facility has taken. But these kids need to be in school,” Candis Morgan, Fayette County mom, said.

“We see this is something we have to live with what, when do we get back to normal,” Angela Costa, Fayette County mom, said.

And, 7-year-old Delaney says it’s not all about going back to see her friends.

“I love like to be in person and you know learn things because the computers are really glitchy and stuff,” Delaney said.

Costa said the risk of losing critical time on online learning is greater than the risk of spreading the virus.

“I understand the statistics, I understand the death rate, I understand getting sick. I know, multiple patients that have gotten sick. This is not to live in fear. This is the new virus that we have to live with. And especially our young people cannot suffer,” Costa said.

This is the full letter parents got:

“Dear Fayette County Public Schools Families:

Thank you for all you are doing to support your students and schools while we are unable to safely return to in-person learning. Our teachers have been working very hard to ensure that our students are having a positive experience and that Non-Traditional Instruction 2DL is an improvement over last spring.

Our schools will be asking for feedback about how NTI: 2DL is going for your family. I would encourage you to participate in these surveys so that we can adjust our offerings accordingly.

We are working closely with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department to monitor current levels of COVID-19 in our community. We are in daily communication with health officials to review data about current incidence rates in our community and monitor positive cases among students and staff.

FCPS has identified three possible instructional models to be implemented based on the level of community spread of COVID-19 and infection rates in Fayette County:

  • Model 1: Traditional School – In-person instruction with preventative practices, processes and protocols.
  • Model 2: Hybrid Instruction – Alternating schedules for students between in-person and distance learning.
  • Model 3: Non-Traditional Instruction – School or districtwide distance learning as necessary. Options include targeted closure to isolate and disinfect affected areas, short-term closure to allow for deep cleaning of entire building, or extended closure for at least 14 days.

According to the Kentucky Department of Health, Fayette County is currently experiencing accelerated spread of COVID-19. We need our entire community to help us reduce these numbers by following all mitigation measures including social distancing and wearing masks. You can help us by not only doing these things yourself, but also by encouraging your neighbors, family and friends to do the same.

As we shared in our Reenvisioning, Reimagining and Renewing back-to-school plan, we have set regular intervals every 4 to 6 weeks throughout the school year to reconsider which instructional model is appropriate. Our first review window is set for later this month.

Our schools are actively preparing for the return of some form of in-person instruction. Floor decals are being placed throughout our school buildings to mark safe social distancing, we have stocked our schools with appropriate cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, and classroom furniture is being moved to maximize spacing.

I am also excited to share that during tonight’s Fayette County Board of Education meeting, school board members approved a contract to purchase Thermal Imaging and Temperature Detection Technology for our middle and high schools and large elementary schools to provide real time fever detection and thermal screening similar to what Toyota uses in their Georgetown plant.

If you would like to review the health and safety protocols we will implement upon a return to school, I have attached them to this email. I would also encourage you to familiarize yourself with our Reenvisioning, Reimagining and Renewing report, which is available in multiple languages.

As a father and an educator, I would like nothing more than to be back in school. However, it is not up to me. As Dr. Fauci wisely observed months ago, we do not make the timeline, “the virus makes the timeline.” I ask for your continued support and collaboration as we work through these challenging times together.

Your Partner,

Manny Caulk

Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent”

 

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