Dramatic increase in numbers causes 'beyond-difficult situation for schools and staff'
January 10, 2022 – Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) made the difficult decision to cancel school today and move to Non Traditional Instruction (NTI) Tuesday through Friday following a continued and dramatic increase of COVID cases among district employees, Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said.
“It was a beyond-difficult situation for our schools and staff to continue to hold classes in a safe and efficient manner each and every day at school,” he said Monday morning.
Click here to watch Dr. Pollio's full remarks.
Still, he said, this NTI – the third time the district has moved to the learning program, which continues learning on days when school would otherwise be canceled – differs from previous periods of remote learning. When the district first utilized NTI in April 2020, many teachers experienced a learning curve with virtual instruction and many students lacked learning devices. And when the 2020-21 school year began in NTI, he added, most teachers and students didn’t know each other, and virtual learning lasted the majority of the term.
That is not the case this time, he said. Now, teachers and staff know their students well, and this NTI will be a short-term event, perhaps as little as four days long. In addition, educators and school staff began preparing for the possibility of moving to NTI in December, and JCPS has provided devices and internet connectivity to students who lacked those necessities.
“Our teachers and our schools are ready, and will provide great instruction for our students this week,” Pollio said.
With a snow day last Friday, no school Monday, four days of NTI, and an already scheduled holiday on January 17, staff and students who have tested positive will have 11 consecutive days to clear quarantine and isolation, Pollio said.
He emphasized that the district has a maximum of 10 NTI days as allowed by state law. Using four NTI days this week leaves just six remaining NTI days as Omicron cases are expected to peak in middle-to-late January.
“If we use those six days at any point, each and every day we have to be out because of COVID, those would not be NTI days,” Pollio said. “We would add them on to the end of the school year, so you can see the difficulty and challenge that we are facing.”
Curbside meal distribution will be held at more than 100 schools from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. this Tuesday and Thursday, and athletics and extracurricular activities will go on as long as COVID safety measures are taken and staff is available to assist. In addition, English as a Second Language (ESL) and counseling support will continue to be provided.
Pollio said district administrators will continue to monitor and review case numbers and data before making a determination to resume in-person classes or stay in NTI. “Our goal is to make the right decision, so it’ll probably be a Monday decision,” he said.
“These have been difficult times across our community and our nation, but in education, more than ever,” Pollio added. “We are struggling just like so many corporations and entities to staff our schools effectively. We definitely want to get our kids in school, and make sure we’re able to do it safely, and effectively, so we can provide instruction.”