Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday told superintendents that K-12 schools would not reopen for in-person classes for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.
At his daily news conference, Beshear said he knew the news was hard, especially for high school seniors.
“Every health care professional had advised us that this is the right course of action,” he said.
He said he was asking all schools to continue non-traditional instruction.
Beshear said it looked like there would be no in-person graduations or proms, and that virtual or drive-in services would have to be held.
“It’s not fair, ...a worldwide pandemic has hit us and those of you who are missing out on these opportunities, we need your help and we need your sacrifice, ” he said. “Your willingness to do it is going to help us save lives.”
Beshear asked for creativity in developing celebrations.
“Life will not be like this for years, not even for months,” said Beshear. He said seniors were giving a gift to Kentucky and “a gift to humanity.”
The state Department of Education said in the post that schools will continue non-traditional instruction in order to reach the required 1,062 instructional hours.
All districts will end instruction by May 29, with most districts likely to finish in mid-May.
Because NTI relies not upon seat time but upon project- and competency-based learning, districts may count all NTI days used during the 2019-2020 school year – including NTI days used before the current closure period – as seven-hour equivalent days, state officials said.
Several other governors across the country have made the same decision not to return this school year, including the governor of Ohio.
Beshear stopped in-person classes March 16. All 172 school districts have been using the state’s non-traditional instruction program or NTI, in which the state approves an at-home learning program for each student in exchange for a school district not having to make days up this school year.
Beshear, at his daily news conference Monday, praised superintendents and school staffs for their work while in-person classes were canceled.
Earlier Monday in a Facebook Live interview with the Courier-Journal, Beshear said even in the guidelines the White House recently released, “there are strong recommendations that schools remain closed and day care options remain closed.”
It is much harder to enforce social distancing among kids, Beshear said.
“So the activities and group activities of children, we are going to have to be very careful about because of how many contacts can come together and spread back out,” said Beshear.
Beshear told superintendents it is too early to tell whether the closure period might be extended into the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
“I’m committed to do all I can to help this state meet the benchmarks to have as normal a school experience in the fall as possible,” he said.
BY VALARIE HONEYCUTT SPEARS AND JACK BRAMMER Lexington Herald Leader