JCPS Board of Education updates on possible back-to-school plan


Michelle Quan

The first JCPS Board of Education meeting of 2021 discussed updated plans to make in-person instruction possible for the upcoming year and information on winter sports. 

In order to reopen schools, JCPS will administer vaccinations for teachers and staff, as provided by the Phase 1B vaccine rollout from the Kentucky Department of Public Health. 

“Phase 1B could begin as early as Feb. 1, plus or minus a week,” Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio cited from Gov. Beshear’s Dec. 28 press release. Ideally, Pollio hopes to begin vaccine distributions on Jan. 25. 

Currently, the number of vaccinations the state will provide for JCPS is unknown. Pollio said a specific timeline for vaccinations will not be decided until more information is given. 

“Our plan will be dependent on the number of doses we receive in approximately three weeks,” Pollio said. 

Employee vaccinations

Employees will receive the Moderna vaccination, which requires a 28 day period between the initial dose and the second booster dose. If all goes according to the ideal plan, Feb. 22 will be the first potential day for employees to go back to school. 

Pollio shared to the board the responses from an employee survey for vaccine requests. 

In a slideshow detailing the employee vaccination process, Pollio included the responses to a survey asking JCPS employees (1) if they want to receive the vaccine and (2) the youngest grade level they come in contact with.

Along with the 12,884 vaccination requests for JCPS employees, JCPS also requested roughly 900 additional vaccines for non-JCPS employees that provide services for students. 

Staff that work with younger grade levels will be prioritized so elementary schools can reopen and K-5 students can return to in-person instruction as soon as possible.

This table breaks down the employee vaccine requests by the youngest grade level they work with.

Kindergarten, 6th grade, and 9th grade vaccine requests are higher because they include staff such as bus drivers and school secretaries who interact with various grade levels. 

As for ECE and ESL students, they are included in the small groups of students that may enter the school buildings for additional learning while the vaccines are being administered, if it is safe to do so. They will also be brought back according to grade level priority.

Since vaccinations have not yet been approved for students, they will not be provided by JCPS, according to Pollio.

For teachers who opted out of the vaccination without a medical condition listed by the CDC as a reason to not take the vaccine, JCPS will try to provide accommodations if schools were to return to in-person instruction.

Drive-through vaccinations will be given out at Broadbent Arena once the first installment of vaccines arrive. 

If in-person instruction is allowed to happen, both virtual and in-person instruction will continue to be provided by JCPS for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

“I do not believe NTI will necessarily be an approved option for next school year. But obviously, we will have to see where we are on vaccinations of children at this time,” Pollio said.


Pollio said JCPS is currently “$25 million in the red” due to the extensive costs of the pandemic, much of it from lost revenue for providing nutrition services. Federal funding will cover about 55% of that lost revenue. 

The additional funding received from Governor Beshear’s latest CARES Act package for public schoolswhich is confirmed by Chief Financial Officer Cordelia Hardin to be about four to five times more money than the last CARES packagewill mainly be used for added educational resources for students. Currently, the amount of funds that will be allocated to JCPS has not yet been determined. 

Board election results

Sarah McIntosh is the newest member of the board, serving District 7. Along with Chris Kolb and Joe Marshall, they all swore an oath in the beginning of the meeting. 

The board re-elected Diane Porter as chair and Chris Kolb as vice-chair. 

As of right now, many details about back-to-school plans and winter sports are not concrete and may change in the near future while JCPS keeps track of COVID-19 positivity rates. JCPS Board of Education meetings can be found on their YouTube channel.

“We truly see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Pollio said when commemorating the board members and expressing his belief that in-person instruction will come sooner rather than later. “We don’t know exactly where that light is right now, but I do believe that we see an end.”

Winter sports

The board voted 4-3 against allowing basketball, bowling, swimming/diving, wrestling and cheer/dance teams to attend regular practice and competition. They voted unanimously to allow these players to participate in small groups of no person-to-person contact training. 

All winter sports’ possible options for participation follow the same timeline as shown, with differences in the length of the regular season.

Concerns about JCPS being one of the few districts in the state to not allow regular practice or competition were brought up in the meeting. 

“Just because another entity makes a bad decision does not mean we should make the same decision,” Kolb said.

A revote for allowing the small group conditioning will take place in the Jan. 19 board meeting.