LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — In exactly one week, the school bell will ring, ushering in the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
But, with COVID-19 numbers up and the Delta variant still surging in our community, what was once considered normal or typical about a return to school… has forever changed.
In an exclusive interview, the new superintendent for Fayette County Public Schools, Dr. Demetrus Liggins, shared his thoughts with us on teaching student success and keeping everyone safe.
Children and teachers will be back in classrooms together again.
"Our classrooms will be the same as they have for years, and our teachers will teach," said Dr. Liggins.
But there will also be COVID-19 safety measures and protocols, including masks, social distancing, hand washing, and deep cleaning of buildings and buses. The hope is to keep everyone safe, healthy, and in person.
"Our teachers are all trained to teach in person," said Dr. Liggins. "Our students have, for years, learned in person, and that is the environment where school actually happens."
Dr. Liggins is passionate about student success and supporting the teachers.
"I am definitely committed to making sure our students are in person with their teachers and able to have that connection ... to make sure learning occurs," he said.
Dr. Liggins says their goal is to make sure both children and adults are protected.
"We just want to make sure everyone, whether you are coming to work or school, that you are in a situation where you feel comfortable and you don't feel like you are putting your life in danger in order to perform your job or learn," Dr. Liggins says.
Giving parents learning options for their children is another commitment from Dr. Liggins. This school year will see a return of various special learning programs. A few new, and of course, the Virtual Learning Academy.
"We want to make sure we continue to offer those," he says. "It is a brilliant idea, and we still have families with personal situations when it comes to COVID-19 that when you have young children that are still not able to get vaccinated, every family has their own dynamics."
Dr. Liggins says they are committed to offering virtual learning options for families.
While some students thrived with hybrid and virtual learning, others didn't, creating a learning deficit. Dr. Liggins says that will be a key focus during this academic year.
"We have to do everything we can to make sure that not only catching up all students, but we are concentrating on the least of those that looking at data were already behind their counterparts and their peers," he said.
And in 100 days, Dr. Liggins says there are a few things he hopes everyone will see and learn about him.
"I am hoping we are not discussing COVID," he says. "I am hoping you will be able to see I have a lot more knowledge about the district in general ... and I am hoping you will be able to see our students are thriving and doing some amazing things ... and we are rocking and rolling."