Kentucky School System vs COVID-19 and NTI

Kentucky School System vs COVID-19 and NTI

Anastasia Panaretos, Sports Editor

March 13, 2020: the last day students in Kentucky public schools had in-person classes for the 2019-2020 school year. The next 48 hours teachers were overwhelmed with the feeling of temporary chaos thinking that school would be only online for the next 2 weeks. Little did they know it was going to be for the rest of the year.  COVID-19 has affected many aspects of our “normal life” including our interactions, our travel habits, and our public education system. 

Our schools had to quickly adapt to a current way of teaching, NTI, which to most schools was brand new. NTI for many districts became very difficult very quickly according to members of the KDE Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council, a group of 28 students from all over Kentucky. The Kentucky Department of Education’s Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council provides feedback on critical issues impacting students and schools and works with KDE staff to develop ideas to improve and transform education. 

During the August 25 Superintendent meeting, four members from this council talked about problems their schools faced during the spring session of NTI. All agreed that the internet was the biggest obstacle their schools and districts faced. “In Eastern Kentucky, where I’m from, internet access is not all that great,” said Caleb Bates, a senior at Breathitt County High School.  Many districts in KY, including Breathitt County and Oldham County, have problems with lack of internet. Along with the lack of internet, there were other problems such as lack of resources at home, lack of motivation, and personal issues that affected the students throughout the spring semester, according to Greg Schultz, the Superintendent of Oldham County. Schultz further discussed how the spring semester was interesting in Oldham County. Oldham County was never a district that utilized NTI and as he said, “[the district was] learning about how to do NTI while we were doing it.”

Planning for NTI 2.0 in the KDE building started right after school went out for the summer. The KDE and Oldham County took feedback from students, parents, teachers, superintendents, etc., to see how NTI in the fall could be improved. KDE representatives talked to the KDE Commissioner Student Advisory to elicit feedback. The students had asked about how schools would keep the buildings safe and told the representatives their concerns such as the K-3 grade levels being behind in curriculum from the year past. The representatives told them about the Healthy at School plan and that all the information could be found on their website. One representative addressed the curriculum concern by saying that all teachers were going through training to help plan for the fall semester classes, and how to ensure that work was done by the students.

Locally, Schutlz noticed that most wanted to have a more cohesive schedule so everyone could know when and where to be online, and that is what the district did. Oldham County is currently on an A/B schedule, in which the weekdays are divided among A day and B day students, with students going 10 days a month in person and the other days NTI.