LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — For hundreds of kindergarten through second-grade students, Monday was the first day of in-person learning for the 2020-21 school year and the first day back for Fayette County Public Schools in nearly a year.
The district projects grades three through five will have the option to return to their school buildings during early March. A timeline for grades six through 12 to return in-person has not been announced.
It’s been just shy of a year since students in #Lexington have been in their classrooms due to #COVIDー19— Claire Kopsky (@ClaireMKopsky) February 22, 2021
•TODAY K-2nd students who want to will return to their desks.
•3rd-5th may return in early March.
•6th-12th don’t have a timeline yet.
We’re live on #SUNRISE w/ details pic.twitter.com/r2RXsXQcox
"It's been a lot with the kids, you know like, having to keep them on schedule and with work and, you know, putting everything together just been a lot," Troyquisha Cloyd, a Lexington mother of two, said while waiting at the bus stop Monday with her daughters. "So, I think it's good for them to go back to school."
Cloyd said that juggling the internet connection and all of their assignments on top of her own job was a lot to keep up with.
"I'm looking forward for them to really be back fully in school so that they can get more learning because I feel like the NTI, I mean, they learn what they're not getting the proper training, you know, as far as real school," said Cloyd.
FCPS father Frank Burns said he was timid to let his daughter go back during the pandemic but said his daughter knows the healthy protocols.
"You know, as we found out they [teachers] don't have such an easy job as we thought," he added.
Burns said it was time for him to put his focus back on work and not need to juggle his daughter's computer technology issues and assignments.
"It was her decision," he said. "She wanted to go and I figured like the teacher is more experienced [at] that this type of thing than I am. I can get one assignment done but doing every subject, it’s like a bit of a brain tease."
William Wells Brown Elementary School Principal Ebony Hutchinson explained virtual learning has been more difficult for elementary-aged students.
"I think it's harder, especially when you look at your younger elementary students to teach virtually, some are doing well, you know, some you got your kindergarteners and first graders who need to get up and move and just have that person-to-person contact," said Hutchinson.
She said Monday morning was interesting to see how some students were nervous at first but then very excited to be back in the building.
Hutchinson said safety protocols are in place as she said she and her teachers want to see students remain in the classroom.
"We're doing temperature checks we have assigned seating and everywhere they go they have a line order that they stay in all day," she said. "And whenever they're in line, seating chart and cafeteria and our classroom and specials, so we know where they are at all times. So if for some reason, a case comes up and we have to contact trace all of these documents are in our personal drive and so we can be able to track down where that's coming from."
Due to COVID-19, FCPS left the decision up to parents as to whether they wanted to send their students back in-person. Hutchinson said once third- through fifth-graders are invited back to their school building, she expects their population to be at 70 percent what it normally would be at William Wells Elementary.
"We've even had some of our teachers personally calling families that have chosen to stay remote just kind of giving them that extra little push like, 'hey, we'd love to have you here, you know, safety is our first concern, but just know that we're doing everything that we can in this building to make sure that all of our students and families are safe,'" Hutchinson
FCPS is one of the last Kentucky districts to return to some form of in-person learning. Hutchinson said that gave her and her team of teachers time to look at how they could create the best socially-distant environment beginning Monday.
"[It gave us] advice and some solutions from other schools that have already gone back," she said, "We've had a couple of meetings with other principals from other schools in the state that have talked about some things that they learned, you know, first coming back and some things that they had to change. So, it helped us to prepare."