FCPS releases information on reopening of schools

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fayette County Public Schools is still working on a plan to safely reopen schools amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but Superintendent Manny Caulk did release some details in a letter to families on Wednesday night.

Among the details, schools will not reopen in July, which had been discussed as a possibility in some circles.

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The district is committed to providing in-person instruction in some form. And, the district is working to come up with distance learning options for students who won’t return to the classroom because of health considerations.

Families can expect to receive a survey next week to provide feedback on reopening scenarios.

The letter was released hours after the Kentucky Department of Education offered health standards for reopening schools statewide during the ongoing pandemic.

The letter from Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk is below:

Dear Fayette County Public Schools Families:

A broad-based committee of students, families, teachers, health officials, principals and district leaders has been working for months to develop plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Although the spread of COVID-19 in our community remains a constantly changing situation, you can be certain that our commitment to safeguarding the health, safety and well-being of our students, families and employees remains constant.

Every decision we make will be in accordance with guidance from federal, state and local health authorities including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Kentucky Governor’s Office, Kentucky Department for Public Health and Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

This afternoon, Gov. Andy Beshear, Kentucky Interim Commissioner of Education Kevin Brown and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman released the new “Healthy at School” guidelines. We are actively in the process of reviewing the new information to ensure that our planning is aligned with the expectations and best practices they announced today.

I expect to be able to share more detailed information about our current thinking with you soon, but I do want to let you know what we are certain of at this time:

  1. We will not return to school in July. In May, districts were advised to develop calendars that would allow for an early start in late July, a normal start in August, and a delayed start after Labor Day. We are confident that we will not return to school in July.
  2. We are committed to providing in-person instruction in some form. Students learn best when they are in class with their teachers and peers and we are doing everything possible to safely make face-to-face schooling a reality.
  3. We are actively working to develop robust distance learning options for families seeking an alternative to on-campus instruction because of health considerations and in the event that Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) has to be implemented again.
  4. Collaboration with families will be critical to the success of any school reopening scenario. Schools are a reflection of the communities they serve and we will need your help to safely launch the 2020-2021 school year.

If you have not yet, I would ask you to please complete the survey we sent last week about your experience with Non-Traditional Instruction last spring. Public health experts continue to warn that intermittent school closures might be needed if there are clusters of COVID-19 infections and we want to ensure that we can make improvements if we ever have to utilize NTI again. The survey will close at midnight on Sunday, June 28. You can take it at www.fcps.net/survey.

Next week we will send a second survey to gather your feedback on specific reopening scenarios. Your voice will be critical to helping us make decisions that work best for Fayette County. Thank you again for your continued support as we work to do what’s best for students.

Your Partner,

Manny Caulk

Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent