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Kentucky teachers hoping lawmakers take action on more flexibility for NTI days

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 9:20 PM EDT
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MOREHEAD, Ky. (WKYT) - Classrooms in Kentucky are sitting empty after many districts have had to either switch to non-traditional instruction, or just close altogether, because so many students and staff are quarantined with COVID-19.

“In our district, we have not seen as much of a disruption as we have in some other districts. We have been very lucky. But that could change tomorrow,” Rowan County teacher Allison Slone said.

Slone is also on the Kentucky Board of Education. She said teachers are worried about students already falling behind because in many districts, in-person learning keeps getting interrupted.

“When a school is trying to make those decisions, they have to decide ‘do we go ahead and use those days and try to teach virtually, like NTI days, or do we take days off?’” Slone said.

During the regular session earlier this year, Kentucky lawmakers capped NTI days at 10 per district. At the time, educators were hopeful that would be enough.

“We really hoped that we could go back to some normalcy and that was all that would be needed. We’re seeing now is that we need more than that,” Slone said.

Right now, Governor Beshear and legislative leaders are ironing out what should take precedence in a special session. Thursday, the governor said NTI days should be on the to-do list.

“We all know what we have in place right now isn’t enough. Because all these schools are coming offline and they’re just saying they’ll tack on days at the end of the year. That’s not workable,” Beshear said.

“Our teachers want to teach,” Slone said. “Whatever method, whatever way they can do it, they want to make sure that the learning process continues for our students.”

The governor said Thursday there should be flexibility for individual schools when it comes to NTI. Perhaps just having one school go virtual while the rest of the district stays in person.

He said overall, he doesn’t think there is a lot of disagreement on this issue, just people taking different routes to get there.

Slone said she hopes lawmakers leave the mask mandate issued by KBE alone for now. She said teachers are concerned if masking becomes more of a choice, it would cause cases in schools to surge.

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