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Kentucky school districts face several challenges in first weeks of new school year

Posted at 10:14 PM, Aug 19, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As Kentucky students return to school, districts are facing a growing set of challenges caused by the pandemic.

Students returned to the classroom last week in Fayette County, and the district has had to deal with a shortage of bus drivers and a growing number of students who need to quarantine.

FCPS is not alone in these challenges and has tried to be transparent with families through its online dashboard where COVID-19 cases and quarantines are reported.

District spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said at Jessie Clark Middle School, district officials received reports of 10 students and four staff testing positive for COVID-19 since the first day of school. Those 14 cases have led to quarantines for 304 students.

This week the dashboard was temporarily taken down, according to Superintendent Demetrus Liggins, because of difficulty keeping it up to date.

"We have taken that down and we are working on changing our infrastructure," Liggins said during a special board meeting Thursday.

The dashboard should be back up by Monday, he said.

But as the need for quarantine increases, Liggins said he's getting more questions about virtual learning.

"There would have to be action from Frankfort in order to make that possible as it is currently not an option at the local level," he said during the meeting.

As far as the bus driver shortage, Liggins said the district is doing what it can to hire more drivers and be more transparent with parents about delays and cancellations.

"Beginning Monday, in addition to the robocalls that we send out when there's a cancelled bus, we will also begin having popup messages on the district's website," he said.

Liggins said he believes COVID-19 protocols like masking will allow students to experience a mostly normal school year. But it's clear the pandemic continues to present major challenges to the district.