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17 KY school districts close due to COVID-19, lawmakers address issue

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Posted at 6:24 PM, Sep 01, 2021

LEE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — About one month into the school year, 17 of 171 districts across the state have closed their doors for a period of time, according to the Kentucky School Board Association.

Sickness and worker shortages because of COVID are causing these closures.

"Stay in schools or close the doors, that's correct," Lee County Schools Superintendent Sarah Wasson said.

This year Wasson has shut down schools twice due to staff shortages caused by COVID-19.

"It's just a challenging environment to have so many people sick and so many people out and trying to make sure the instruction we provide is quality instruction in the classroom," Wasson said.

In Frankfort Wednesday, the interim joint committee on education met to discuss this immediate issue.

A few solutions were raised, including changing the number of NTI days allowed.

Currently, districts are only allowed to use 10 NTI days for the entire year. While the idea of expanding the number of NTI days allowed was discussed, co-chair Senator Max Wise said he would not be in favor of unlimited NTI days, as he feared that could be abused.

Another solution could be to allow remote learning for individual schools and classrooms. Right now, the only virtual option, NTI days, must be implemented district-wide.

To address the root of the problem as it relates to worker shortages, there was talk about relaxing restraints to get substitute teachers and retirees in the classroom quicker.

Governor Andy Beshear has expressed interest in calling a special session to address issues like this one.