COVID-19 Guidance for Schools and Districts: HB 208: Changes to Non-Traditional Instruction

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released a new COVID-19 guidance document on March 9 that details changes and updates to Kentucky’s Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Program as a result of House Bill (HB) 208 (2021).

On March 4, Gov. Andy Beshear signed HB 208 into law, codifying many of the emergency regulations under which Kentucky’s schools and districts have been operating during the 2020-2021 school year. This new law extends the flexibilities offered under the emergency regulations through the end of the current school year.

The changes to the NTI program under HB 208 do not go into effect until March 29. Districts may continue their current plans until that date.

According to the document, “COVID-19 Considerations for Schools and Districts: HB 208: Changes to Non-Traditional Instruction,” districts must provide each student with access to in-person instruction at least 40% of the week, and each school must be open to some form of in-person instruction at least 80% of the school week, beginning with the first school day on or after March 29.

“Many of our districts are already meeting this requirement through variations of an A/B hybrid model of instruction,” Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass said. “Through this model, students alternate two days per week in the classroom and two days per week remote instruction.”

There are many variations of the A/B model, Glass said. One popular variation is to move the fifth day from Friday to Wednesday. This model allows for deep cleaning in the middle of the week and over the weekend. For more details about how to construct a hybrid schedule, consult KDE’s COVID-19 Guidance 2.0 document.

In addition to mandating in-person learning minimums, HB 208 also caps the number of NTI days available for use. HB 208 grants districts five NTI days for use during the final months of the 2020-2021 school year. NTI days should only be used when all students must work from home. Hybrid schedule days, where some in-person instruction is offered, are not considered NTI days.

KDE is not able to approve additional NTI days and no waiver requests will be accepted. Should a district require more than five days off school after March 29, it must cancel school and extend the school calendar following usual procedures.

For the 2021-2022 school year, districts must return to the usual statutory limitations of no more than 10 NTI days.

As the situation with the pandemic evolves, KDE is creating new guidance documents to meet the needs of Kentucky’s schools and districts. More guidance and resources are available on KDE’s COVID-19 webpage.