Back to School

A new way forward. back to school: what families need to know

The Jefferson County Board of Education voted February 25, 2021 to approve a plan to reopen schools. Jefferson County Public Schools began returning elementary students to school buildings March 17th. Middle and high school students began in-person learning April 5 with the same hybrid schedule as elementary students. Our decision to reopen our school buildings is based on our mitigation efforts, guidance from the CDC and local and state health officials, as well as the success of the local vaccination plan for JCPS employees. View hybrid schedule approved by the board.

click on image for pdf of calendar

With updated guidance and direction from the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Department of Public Health, and the Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness Department, JCPS has developed a plan to ensure all health and safety protocols are followed when reopening our school buildings. A summary of our district back-to-school plan, called A New Way Forward, can be found hereA New Way Forward is an overview of how schools will operate once they are back open - everything from seating on school buses to masking, social distancing, sanitizing and quarantining requirements inside schools. 

Each of our JCPS schools has developed a plan to show families what the In-Person Learning Option will be like on their specific campus. The Return to School District Portal carefully details the safety measures that will be implemented in each school. 

JCPS has also produced a video which illustrates what a typical day might be like, from the morning bus stop to leaving school in the afternoon, for your child as they return to in-person learning.  

If you have chosen the Virtual Learning option and your child is continuing on-line learning, you will find more information as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions later on this web page. 

The academic standards in our content areas for each grade level, for students learning virtually or in-person, are publicly available.

Checklist for sending your child back to school

Is your student ready to get back into their school building? Here are a few questions and  reminders to get your child ready for the first day of in-person classes during the 2020-21 school year: 

  • Do you know what time school starts for your child? At most JCPS elementary schools, the hours are 9:05 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. At most middle and high schools, hours are 7:40 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.

  • Have you confirmed your child’s transportation arrangements? Information about your child's bus number and route can be found here or by calling 485-RIDE (7433).
  • If your child is walking or biking, have you discussed safety precautions regarding traffic and strangers? If your child is riding a bus, have you talked about safety issues and behavior expectations? 

  • Have you read and accepted JCPS’ request that you promise to check your child’s temperature and ask them about COVID-19 symptoms before they leave home each morning? 

  • Have you talked to your child about following Healthy-at-School guidelines to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in their school?

  • Has your child developed any health problems since March 2020 that will affect his or her school day? If so, have you notified school staff? If your child needs to take medication at school, have you made arrangements?

  • Have you checked with the school about the supplies your child will need? 

  • Do you know if your child’s school has a dress code? Will your child need different clothes for physical education or art classes? 

  • Have you filled out health, emergency contact, and other forms that have been sent home? 
  • Have you established an earlier bedtime to help your child get back on an in-school schedule, including time to get to school? 

  • Have you signed up with the district’s School Messenger alert system so you will receive emergency notifications and other important information? Have you signed up for SchoolCNXT to receive updates from your child’s school (include instructions)

Family Contact Information Request. parent holding an iphone

Families are encouraged to update their contact information. Let your child's school know the easiest ways to contact you in case of emergency OR if a teacher or school administrator needs to reach you.     

Riding the bus - key points
  • bus driver wearing mask driving bus
    Parent or guardian is required to check child for COVID-19 symptoms before they leave home and head to bus stop and keep student home if there are symptoms

  • Students will be required to wear a mask at all times on the bus unless they have a medical waiver

  • Students will use hand sanitizer as they board the bus 
  • Students will have assigned seats on the bus to help with contact tracing

  • Students who feel sick or show symptoms will be seated in the first seat closest to the door
  • Students will be separated to the extent possible 

  • Drivers will clean buses after each run

At school - key points
  • Students will be required to wear a mask at all times inside the school unless they have a medical waiver
  • Masks will be available to students who need one, for whatever reason  

  • Seats in classrooms will be six feet apart, when feasible 

  • Seating in cafeteria will be assigned and limited to promote social distancing and contact tracing, if necessary. Students may eat breakfast and/or lunch in other areas of the school (i.e. gymnasium)) 

  • Social distancing will be enforced in common areas of the school

  • Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the school

  • Students will have ample opportunity to wash their hands

More information about back-to-school plans can be found in A New Way Forward.

Schools will ensure that any student with a disability that requires a medical waiver will receive appropriate accommodations.

Schools will have specialized PPE for therapists and ECE staff who are in close contact with students for toileting or other health supports

Schools have plans for safe handling/disinfecting of specialized items such as wheelchairs or devices 

Early childhood

elementary girl wearing mask
  • Smaller mask sizes have been purchased for younger students

  • Structured routines will be developed for socially distanced mask breaks

  • Students will remain with the same small group/buddies of students for meals, playground and desk-based activities. 

  • Schools will limit high touch centers and the amount of materials in the room to reduce the amount of cleaning/disinfecting needed

  • During naptime, cots/mats will be social distanced and placed head to toe 

When a student or staff member is sick at school

Students or staff will be excluded from school and sent home if any of the following occur:

  • Temperature greater than 100.4 degrees

  • Cough

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • New rash

  • Exposure to COVID-19 case during 48 hour period before person developed symptoms

Students will be sent to designated health/isolation room to await pick up

Staff will be sent home

CONTACT TRACING: Schools will work with health officials to do contact tracing. Here's a document showing how the contact tracing will work.  

COVID TESTING - Free, rapid COVID testing is available for students, employees and parents/guardians at several JCPS schools. Click here for a list of schools and times.

When a student or staff member is positive for covid-19 

If an individual is identified as a close contact, health officials will reach out to the student’s family or the employee if there is a need to quarantine

Families with students in a class where there is a case of COVID-19 will be notified as soon as possible with recommendations from public health officials

The need for quarantining depends on many factors including how long the student/staff was in close contact with the affected person and how far apart they were. Students/staff who are within six feet of someone who tests positive for extended period of time would likely be considered a close contact. For those identified as a close contact, the length of time to self-quarantine and remain out of school is 14 days.

Students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 are usually out of school for 10 days depending on how sick they are. They can return to school when their health provider or the health department gives clearance documentation to return. A negative COVID-19 test is not required to return to school.

The names of students or staff who have tested positive will not be shared with others in the school due to federal health privacy laws

click on this image to view pdf of document

Frequently asked questions

What grades will be going back to school?

All JCPS schools are operating on an A/B hybrid model schedule. Students who chose in-person learning are going to school two days a week and learning virtually three days a week. Students will be split into two groups based on their last name. If your last name starts between A-K, you are in Group A. Group A students are going to school on Mondays and Tuesdays and learning virtually on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. If your last name starts between L-Z, you are in Group B. Group B students are learning virtually on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and going to school on Thursdays and Fridays.  


If my child goes back to in-person school will they have the same teacher they’ve had for NTI this school year?

It’s possible but not a certainty. Each school will be making its own staffing decisions with some of its teachers leading Virtual Academy classes while others will be returning to the classroom to lead in-person instruction.

If my child opts to stay home and do virtual learning but his/her teacher is back in the classroom, how will my child continue to progress through the syllabus and lessons his/her teacher has been working on all year so far? 

We expect the Virtual Academy experience to be similar to what your child has experienced with NTI. Your child’s virtual teacher will likely be a teacher from their school with all teachers sharing a similar syllabus. That should make continuation of this year’s class work relatively seamless.

If I choose the Virtual Learning option, who will teach my child?

Answered above.

If I have changed my mind and want my child to return to Virtual Learning or Return to in-person classes, can I make the change?

Yes. Contact your child's school.

Does my child need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to get into school?


What will happen if my child’s in-person teacher has to quarantine?

If your child’s teacher has to quarantine for 10 or more days a substitute teacher will work in the classroom.  

Will the whole class have to quarantine if there is a positive case in the classroom?

Not necessarily. JCPS, in conjunction with the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, has contact tracing that will guide the decisions on which students and staff might need to quarantine.

Will all classrooms have desks 6-feet apart?

Not necessarily. We are following Kentucky Department of Education and CDC guidance and making every effort to keep the number of desks in each classroom to a minimum and spaced out across the room. But we know there will be instances when that is not possible, especially in our older buildings with smaller classrooms or schools where a significantly high number of students opt to return to in-person classes. Recent studies have concluded, and national experts agree, that students taking precautions such as wearing masks all the time, frequently washing hands and avoiding gathering in groups keeps community spread from students in school at a minimum. 

What safety precautions are being taken to protect students?

After carefully reviewing updated guidance and direction from the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Department of Public Health, and the Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness Department JCPS has developed a plan to ensure all health and safety protocols are followed when it is safe to reopen our school buildings. To review our district plan, please see A New Way Forward.

Will each school have a school nurse?

Our goal is to have a nurse or medical professional in each school or, if that is not feasible, a nurse available to every school. For instance, one nurse may staff two schools located on the same campus or close to each other.  

What if my child gets sick at school?

They will be sent to a sick room or isoloation room where they will talk to a nurse or medical professionial. If they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, they could be tested at the school and ultimately sent home. 

Also, JCPS has produced a video showing what a typical, safe, school day might look like for students, from getting on the school bus to walking the hallways and eating lunch. 

School Meals

Breakfast - Schools will be offering "grab-n-go" breakfasts for all students

Lunch - Students will go to the cafeteria, go through the cafeteria line and have socially distanced seating in the cafeteria, a classroom, outside or another area of the school.

Virtual Learning meals - Curbside meal pickup sites will continue to operate at many sites but on a new schedule. Beginning the week of April 5th, curbside meals will only be distributed on Saturdays (except Derby Day) from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. Families will be given 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and snacks for each child 18 and under.     

virtual learning

Online teacher pointing at white board on student laptop screen
JCPS is offering parents and guardians the option of keeping their child in remote learning when in-person classes resume. Responses to our survey indicate about 36 percent of JCPS students are expected to remain in on-line learning. Virtual learning will be similar to NTI 2.0, using Google Classroom as the main platform for student instruction. We expect teaching and learning to be engaging and rigorous with students in Virtual Learning receiving similar curriculum, assignments and group projects as their classmates who return to school buildings. 

FAQ: virtual learning

F.a.q.virtual learning options page 1 click on this graphic for pdf version

F.a.q.virtual learning options page 2 click on this graphic for pdf version

Fast facts about JCPS


  • Jefferson County Public Schools is a community of more than 96,000 students and 17,000 employees, including 6,100 teachers.
  • More than 144 countries are listed as birthplaces for current JCPS students, and 138 languages are spoken by JCPS students. 
  • More than 12,000 special education students attend JCPS.
  • 66 percent of JCPS students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. 
  • About 5,000 students in JCPS are believed to be experiencing homelessness or an unstable living environment. 
  • It is one of the top 30 largest districts in the country and the largest district in Kentucky. 
  • 1 in 7 Kentucky students attend JCPS.
  • 82 percent of JCPS teachers have Masters Degrees or higher
  • JCPS has 15.8 percent of Kentucky’s National Board-Certified Teachers 


JCPS has 169 schools that serve the city of Louisville.

  • 90 elementary schools
  • 22 middle schools
  • 18 high schools
  • 3 combined schools (Brown/Moore/Shawnee)
  • 31 special/alternative schools
  • 5 Pre-K schools