The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) approved several emergency regulations during its Aug. 5 regular meeting to help districts prepare for the ongoing effects the COVID-19 pandemic may have on the 2021-2022 school year.
The KBE heard from Robin Kinney, associate commissioner in the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Office of Finance and Operations, about an emergency regulation related to paid leave for district employees who are quarantined due to COVID-19.
The regulation provides for paid leave for full- and part-time school district staff who are ordered to quarantine by a treating medical professional, a local health department, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) or the employing school district. Employees must have taken the COVID-19 vaccine or be exempt due to disability or sincerely held religious belief to be eligible for this paid leave. The additional leave prevents employees from having to use their limited personal or sick leave days during quarantine. In order to be effective for the 2021-2022 school year, the current regulation was filed on an emergency basis.
The KBE also approved a non-emergency regulation that will take effect in 7 to 9 months allowing paid leave for similar quarantining circumstances.
Kinney also presented the board with an amendment to an existing regulation, 702 KAR 7:125. The amendment allows a district to provide educational services to students while quarantined or isolated and allows school districts to include those students in the Adjusted Average Daily Attendance (AADA) during the 2021-2022 school year.
“Under this route, you would not have to convene your home/hospital committee, but there’s more instructional requirements,” said Kinney.
KBE at-large member Randy Poe, a retired superintendent, was among many KBE members that showed support for the amendment.
“Thank you for bringing this because it’s going to be much needed,” said Poe.
Chuck Truesdell, KDE’s director of government relations, provided an overview of a regulation governing how the student and teacher representatives for the KBE will be selected.
The regulation follows House Bill 178, which was signed into law in April and requires both the student and teacher members on the KBE to be non-voting members, serve one-year terms and rotate among each of Kentucky’s six congressional districts. The teacher and student members cannot come from the same congressional district during the same term, and the student must be a junior at the time of the appointment.
According to the regulation, applications for student and teacher positions will open no later than March 1 and close no later than April 1 each year. Submitted applications for the student position will go to the Student Advisory Council and applications for the teacher position will go to the Teacher Advisory Council for review; each group will choose three applicants to recommend to KBE by May 1.
During their last meeting of the fiscal year – typically in June – KBE members will choose their final recommendations for the positions. The selected student and teacher will take their seat on July 1.
KBE Chair Lu Young praised the regulation’s intent to maintain teacher and student voice in a real way on the state board.
“One thing I do really appreciate is that this statute, and now regulation, does codify the existence of a teacher and a student member on our board and I’m very proud of that,” said Young.
KDE’s Local Superintendents Advisory Council previously approved all three regulations before they were sent to the KBE.
Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass provided board members with an update on initial studies that have tried to quantify learning lost due to the pandemic. Glass said that while the studies have shown some level of learning loss from this past year, it is not as deep as it could have been.
“One possible reason that I hypothesize for this is that learning didn’t just stop,” said Glass. “We shifted to hybrid and virtual options to try and keep learning going.”
Glass also suggested educators should work to create a more impactful educational experience during the post-COVID years.
“We should be thinking about how we can create meaningful and lasting learning experiences going forward,” said Glass.
Glass also provided an update on the successful summer school programs held by both the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) and the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD).
KSB had 23% of its students attend its three weeks of summer school, where students participated in team building activities, Lego robotic building, circuit board building and cardio drumming. KSD had about 45% of its students attend summer school in June, where students experienced a mobile zoo that brought a variety of animals, reptiles and insects. They also had field trips to Salato Wildlife Education Center and the Louisville Zoo.
KSD is also preparing for a 12-month self-study as part of an accreditation process by the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf.
In other business, the board:
- Re-elected Lu Young and Sharon Porter Robinson as KBE chair and vice chair;
- Approved amendments to the KBE policy manual and regular meeting calendar;
- Approved renewal of membership to the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and approved KBE member participation in the 2021 NASBE Virtual Annual Conference;
- Approved the recipient of the Kelly Award for Business and Education Partnership, which will be presented at KBE’s next meeting;
- Presented the 2021 Grissom Award for Innovation in Special Education to Kim Hawkins, director of preschool and special education at Allen County Schools;
- Approved the Kentucky Education Technology System (KETS) operational plan for the 2021-2022 school year;
- Approved Harrison County School District’s request to waive 702 KAR 4:180;
- Heard an update from KDE’s Chief Performance Officer Karen Dodd on the commissioner’s strategic dashboard;
- Heard an update from KDE Division Director Karen Wirth on the 2022-2024 biennial budget;
- Heard from KDE Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney and KDE Division Director Lynn McGowan-McNear on a KDE employment report;
- Heard an update on Ashland Independent School District’s budget from Kinney and KDE Division Director Chay Ritter; and
- Received an overview of the statement for consideration for regulation 703 KAR 5:270, Procedural Safeguards.