JCPS NTI Teacher

Hazelwood Elementary teacher Sumer Smith interacts with her students during remote learning day, 1/11/2022. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Many school districts have had to revisit plans for COVID-19 mitigation measures as the omicron variant spreads through the country.

Jefferson County Public Schools began NTI learning Tuesday after being able to avoid it so far this school year.

"Just having a couple of different NTI experiences definitely made preparing for it a little easie, because I had a reference point to go off of," said Sumer Smith, a first-grade teacher at Hazelwood Elementary School. "When people hear first, grade I think people assume there is chaos. But they are really good kids, and I think they are excited to see everybody."

The move to remote learning was prompted by a significant increase in COVID-19 cases among staff.  As of Tuesday afternoon, 738 staff members were positive with the virus in JCPS. Another 124 were in quarantine. 

"We pivoted and said, 'Let's get ready,'" Hazelwood Principal Courtney Grace said. "We started to get ready. So we were teaching (the students) on Tuesday how to get on and activated with their Google classroom and practicing."

Meanwhile, Oldham County Schools voted Monday night to reinstate its mask mandate for the next two weeks as cases were on the rise there. The district had lifted its mask mandate Nov. 1 "in light of current and trending data." 

"We recognize the importance of in-person learning every day for our students and we will do everything to make this possible," Oldham County Schools Superintendent Jason Radford said. 

Oldham County Schools is currently seeing it's highest rate of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with at least 55 staff members positive with the virus as of Tuesday afternoon. 

JCPS said it would re-evaluate the situation with staffing over the weekend to make a decision on if the district will return to in-person learning next week.

"If our staffing levels return to a point that we can safely operate school, our scheduled return to in-person instruction will be Tuesday, January 18," an email sent to JCPS families reads. "This follows the Monday after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday."

Kentucky school districts can use up to 10 days of nontraditional instruction during the 2021-22 school year after policymakers granted broad flexibility for remote learning the previous two academic years affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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