Fayette County schools begin transition back to in-person learning

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:27 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - After nearly one year, some Fayette County students are back in classrooms Monday.

The district plans to reopen classrooms gradually, beginning with kindergarten, first, and second-grade students.

Monday was the first time many young students have ever stepped inside a classroom.

At Arlington Elementary, there were a lot of smiles under masks, a lot of excited voices, and it was coming from parents, teachers and students alike.

“We’d just come home from work and she’d say, ‘Do I get to go to school yet? Do I get to go to school yet?’” parent Jaylin Russell said.

Principal Kim Lippert told us it does feel like the first day of school in a way, even though we are at the tail end of February.

Lippert says that NTI was as good a substitute for in-person learning as the district could make, but it’s not the same thing students will get beginning Monday.

“As educators, we’re so used to being hands-on with the students and being right there engaging them in their learning,” Lippert said. “So, to do it virtually, you know our students have been great about getting online with us the teachers have been great with their lessons, but it’s just not the same.”

Lippert tells us a lot of the first morning back is going to be focused on showing students what’s different and making sure they understand the rules they’ll have to follow when they’re in school.

That means following social distancing stickers that are on the floor. Making sure their masks are on. Understanding how to change classes and what lunchtime will look like.

Lippert says it will seem different, but the staff is trying to make this new normal feel as normal as possible.

“They’ll start by just going over the safety procedures and the teachers have a schedule,” Lippert said. “They’re going to do a walking tour with the kids in the building to just let them know how different the building is marked up and then they’ll go on with their normal schedule.”

The excitement is high and Fayette County Public School officials hope that this is just the beginning.

“No one predicted this type of school year since last March, but we’re so excited that the students are here today,” Lippert said.

Students in third, fourth, and fifth grades could return to in-person learning as early as Wednesday, March 3. The district has not made an announcement about grades 6, 9, and 12, which were originally included in the second reopening phase as well.

Acting Superintendent Marlene Helm says staffing issues have complicated the transition process. At a press conference last week, school leaders said they needed to fill more than 30 openings for bus drivers alone.

On Tuesday, the district will again meet with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department to discuss current COVID-19 trends within the city.

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