(FRANKFORT, KY) – An application and waiver opportunity are now available for certain sections of the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Program for public school districts not currently utilizing the program, Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown announced today.

The move was made in response to widespread concern regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the potential need to close school facilities upon recommendations of public health officials.

State regulation currently requires districts to submit applications for participation in the NTI Program at least 120 days prior to the beginning of a school year.

“I will ask the Kentucky Board of Education at its special meeting on March 18 to grant a blanket waiver to this regulation so districts not currently participating in the NTI Program can go through this abbreviated application process and can show they are able to deliver quality, non-traditional instruction on days they may need to be closed during the remainder of the 2019-2020 year,” Brown said.

Districts will have to get approval from their local board of education before submitting their plan to the state, he said. Eighty-three of Kentucky’s 172 school districts were approved to participate in the NTI program during the 2019-2020 school year; the remaining 89 districts may take advantage of the abbreviated waiver opportunity. The waiver is anticipated to be retroactive to March 10.

The NTI Program encourages the continuation of academic instruction on days when school would otherwise be canceled. School districts create plans to deliver instruction to every student in the district and provide for student and teacher interaction on NTI days, with the ultimate goal of continuing instruction.

The commissioner of education may waive up to 10 NTI days to count toward student attendance days in the school districts’ calendars.

The program began as a pilot in 2011, then went statewide in the 2014-2015 school year. From 2011-2019, more than 1,500 instructional days were saved for Kentucky school districts, including a record 510 instructional days during the 2017-2018 school year and 399 instructional days during the 2018-2019 school year.

This special application and waiver are only applicable for the 2019-2020 school year. Districts that wish to be considered for participation in the NTI program in 2020-2021 must make a separate application.