Supplemental School Year requests and other waivers approved
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – During a May 18 special meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) approved the requests of the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB), the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) and their students to participate in the Supplemental School Year Program (SSYP) during the 2021-2022 school year. There will be a total of 13 students from these schools participating in the SSYP.
Passed during the 2021 legislative session, Senate Bill 128 created the SSYP, which allows any Kentucky K-12 public or private school student the option to use the 2021-2022 school year as a chance to retake or supplement classes they completed during the 2020-2021 school year. Students needed to submit a request by May 1 to their district’s board of education. The districts must determine by June 1 if they will honor all or none of those requests and submit their plans to the KBE by June 16.
The KBE serves as the managing board for both the KSB and the KSD. The board’s votes to approve the schools’ requests were unanimous.
Seven requests came from students of the KSB and six from the KSD. Middle and high school students accounted for seven requests, while six were from elementary school students.
According to Carol Ann Morrison, the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) director of state schools, staff from KDE’s Office of Special Education and Early Learning consulted with the schools’ principals to ensure the schools are prepared to provide the SSYP to students. Morrison also stated that adequate staffing was available and the dorms were prepared for participating students.
More information regarding the SSYP can be found in KDE’s guidance document, Senate Bill 128: Supplemental School Year Program 2.0.
The KBE also approved requests to waive a pupil attendance regulation, known as 702 KAR 7:125. This would provide more flexibility for virtual learning options for schools during the 2021-2022 school year.
KDE’s Director of Innovation, David Cook, shared that districts had the opportunity to create “powerful, high-quality virtual programs” during the pandemic due to executive orders from Gov. Andy Beshear and emergency actions from KBE. However, those opportunities ended with the close of the school year.
“We have districts sitting in a vacuum of not having any authority to do some of the things they had been doing during the pandemic,” Cook said. “The truth is they are still going to have students and families who want their students to continue to participate in virtual opportunities in the fall of ’21.”
Waiving the pupil attendance regulation will provide recognition of virtual learning opportunities established under the district’s policies. The waiver creates the option for districts to operate virtual programs for elementary students and count those students in attendance in order to receive state funding.
By signing the waiver, district agree to stand by a list of 15 assurances, such as following specific guidelines for tracking attendance, implementing real-time strategies to monitor and track student and teacher interactions, and ensuring that fully virtual students’ schedules align with the standard day of in-person students.
According to Cook, the waiver gives elementary school students virtual opportunities they did not have prior to the pandemic, and also creates an attendance-based form of virtual learning.
As of now, 109 districts have requested the waiver. Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass was given permission by the board’s vote to approve any further requests that are submitted for this waiver.