FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — There's no doubt about it, this past school year has been one-of-a-kind for school-aged students.
As the Kentucky Department of Education prepares for the fall semester, it engaged its Student Advisory Council made up of sophomore, junior and senior public school students across the commonwealth in a meeting Tuesday morning to hear about their experiences during the pandemic and look ahead to the next school year.
"What we hope continues forward are really a variety of different schooling models for students that include in-person options, virtual options, and all sorts of hybrid options," said KDE Commissioner Jason Glass.
One Breathitt County student said offering the option is a great idea.
"There are significant health issues that impact young people, but there are a number of grandparents who raise their grandchildren so that's what comes to mind. I think that providing that virtual learning environment allows not only for flexibility, but also for security when it comes to health issues," said Caleb Bates.
Another student disagreed, raising concern about attendance.
"Right now, like over half our school is virtual, and a lot of kids think that they can just not do their work and just stay at home and do nothing. And so they're not really learning anything and I feel like next year that will continue to happen," said Loren Little.
While plans for the academic aspect of student life are still in flux, so, too, are extracurriculars, especially for those who choose to redo their past school year.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner said the organization will have to be strict when requests come in to change schools.
"The fundamental behind the law was to let you have a chance in your original environment at a better year next year. and we have to keep it that simple. it wasn't designed to get you benefits or get other people benefits or things they wouldn't have otherwise gotten," said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett.
Glass said although stressful, the pandemic has moved Kentucky education forward.
"It's a natural and important step for our public schools to think about how they can offer instruction differently than the walls of the school building and the structure that's been in place," said Glass.
The council also discussed the supplemental school year program that would allow students to redo their past school year.
Students have to decide by May 1 if they'd like to participate.
Districts need to let the department of education know by May 1 if they'll take part, so funding and scheduling can be worked out.