District is making plans to quickly move to NTI if necessary
January 5, 2022 – Citing “the need and desire to be in-person learning right now,” Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said the district is taking steps to keep students in school as long as safely possible, but is making plans to quickly move to Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) if necessary.
“While in-person instruction is our focus, we have to prepare for NTI,” Pollio said. “And we have to make sure that we are ready to go and give our kids fantastic instruction, the best we can possibly give virtually if we have to make that switch.”
Pollio also voiced concern about being limited to 10 Non-Traditional Instructional (NTI) days, and urged the Kentucky legislature to provide additional NTI days to allow districts flexibility in responding to rising cases.
Pollio said state and national health experts expect cases to peak toward the end of January, “so we most likely have not seen the worst of Omicron when it comes to our community and our schools.”
With 21 school days left through the first week in February, he added, “the great fear for me is that we will use our 10 NTI days and come to a point where we cannot hold school effectively, and not have the tools we need to make sure that we continue, safely, in-person in-school.”
Pollio said that there is no benchmark number of absences that would trigger a school or the district to move to remote learning, as the impact of absences varies widely depending on the school or building. District officials meet daily to review case and quarantine numbers and make decisions about if and when to move to remote learning.
If the district moves to NTI, remote learning won’t be on a day-by-day basis, he said. NTI will be multiple days, and will be scheduled around weekends and other days off to maximize the opportunity to clear quarantine days.
Pollio said the district continues to follow Kentucky Healthy at School guidelines, which require 10 days of quarantine for positive cases. While he added that he expects to receive updated guidance soon, he did not expect that 10-day requirement to change.
“Schools are being left with the burden of carrying Covid mitigation, when throughout communities across America there seems to be very little Covid mitigation going on, and schools are being the ones to take the brunt of that,” Pollio said.
“It’s a very challenging time without a doubt in education,” he added. “I don’t know if there’s been a more challenging time at any point in this whole pandemic.”
Pollio also thanked JCPS educators and staff for their efforts throughout the trying times.
“We’ve got teachers, leaders and staff out there that are stepping up every single day to cover classes, make sure that social distancing, quarantining, all of those things that we have had to do, are being done,” Pollio said. “I can’t say enough about the work that our school leaders and educators do every single day to keep our kids in school.”