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'Enough is enough': Hundreds of students leave FCPS for private schools

School Bus
Posted at 3:03 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 21:00:00-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As the pandemic continues, Fayette County Public Schools continue classes online while hundreds of parents said "enough is enough" to FCPS virtual learning and moved their children to private schools.

LEX 18 learned more than 250 students from FCPS transferred to the following schools since August 2020: Lexington Christian Academy, Trinity Christian Academy, Lexington Catholic High School, Saint Peter and Paul Catholic School, Providence Montessori School, Sayre School and Summit Christian Academy.

All of these schools said they would have accepted more students if social distancing was not needed as space hindered them from accepting more students that admissions directors said are still on waiting lists.

Kristin Childress' elementary-aged sons started the 2020-21 school year enrolled in FCPS. She explained she quickly lost hope during the Fall semester, "whenever the first board meeting took place, you know, the first protest took place. We saw the writing on the wall really quickly."

Childress was active in speaking up with the Let Them Learn group but said she ultimately had to choose what was best for her children.

"I just got really tired of lip service. It's just complete lip service. They don't listen. It was obvious to us that they don't listen over the countless times that we communicated with board members, back and forth with these meetings four and five-hour meetings about plans," Childress said.

She explained her and her husband's decision to move their sons to Trinity Christian Academy was not an easy choice. She said, "I think that's part of the problem too for a lot of these [FCPS] parents is they're just being strung along, there's no plan and every, you get it two weeks out and 'ope nope two more weeks, oh no two more weeks.'"

Since they made the transition, Childress said her sons are "thriving" and "being challenged academically."

"I just can't say enough about what it feels like to actually have an administration and a staff and a school system that wants the best for your child," she said. "Not just says they want the best for your child, but to truly want what's best for their child, or your child and go after it."

Childress explained her son's classes at Trinity have not had any virus outbreaks leading to the need to transition back to virtual learning.

"I think that that speaks volumes to what these teachers and these school administrations are able to do when we trust them with the decisions to go back in-person and be able to mitigate the disease," she said.

Meanwhile, FCPS is operating off a Matrix system that requires Fayette County to show a rolling seven-day average of 3.3% new COVID-19 cases or less to bring all students back in-person which is a number the County has not seen since April.

According to the District's Twitter account Monday morning, students, parents and teachers can now receive daily updates on the COVID-19 In-Person Learning Matrix by signing up through the Remind App.

FCPS District Spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall explained the district's position, "Although our teachers and school leaders have done a phenomenal job of making connections and delivering content, we all agree that nothing can replace the magic of in-person learning and we are eager to have our students and staff back in the classroom when it is safe to do so. We are optimistic that the decreasing case numbers and availability of a vaccine will not only enable us to return to in-person instruction soon, but also usher in the beginning of an end to the pandemic."

Deffendall said FCPS enrollment decreased by 730 students from Dec. 1, 2019, to Dec. 1, 2020, which she said has much to do with the kindergarten classes where the District saw 402 fewer students.

"We have heard from many families who kept their 5-year-olds in daycare or preschool settings rather than start kindergarten on a computer. We have also heard from families who chose to homeschool this year by forming pods with friends or neighbors and hiring someone to teach these small groups of children," said Deffendall.

Deffendall explained the district did not grow for the 2020-21 school year as it has for the past three terms consecutively but, "The advent of COVID-19 has disrupted almost every aspect of our daily lives and forced many families to make difficult decisions about schooling for their children in order to find solutions that work best for their individual circumstances."