The Fayette County school board agreed Monday to develop a plan to take part in the state’s distance learning program which has eliminated snow days in 40 other districts.
The board voted to apply for the Kentucky Department of Education’s non-traditional instruction program this summer, but might not implement the program until the 2017-18 school year.
Board member Doug Barnett said he would not agree to application unless the district used the 2016-17 school year to develop a plan for implementing it. The board decided to go ahead and apply for the 2016-17 school year as it considers how to proceed. Applications for the program are approved by the state board annually.
Using online and pencil-and-paper assignments, the district would conduct school through non-traditional means on as many as 10 days when school is called off. The district will have to show evidence of student participation and student learning, and if Kentucky Department of Education officials find the results valid, the district would not have to make up those days.
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“The district has had several winters where inclement weather has caused classes to be canceled for five or more days,” a board document attached to Monday’s agenda said. With both online and pencil-and-paper assignments, instruction can continue, the document said.
Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez said the department’s staff will review Fayette’s application and forward it with a recommendation to the Kentucky Board of Education. The timetable for the state’s approval will depend on when the application is submitted, she said.
Fayette officials will have to meet several criteria surrounding how the district will deliver instruction both digitally and to students who don’t have online access, and to students with disabilities.
More than 40 of the state’s 173 school districts participated in the program in the 2015-16 school year, including several in southeastern Kentucky and in Jessamine, Madison and Woodford counties in Central Kentucky.
Jessamine Superintendent Kathy Fields told the Herald-Leader last year that the response had been great from students and parents.
Jessamine staff set up websites so teachers could communicate directly with students and parents.
Other students completed paper packets of work. Teachers telephoned students who didn’t have Internet access.