Kentucky Department of Education releases new guidance on Senate Bill 1

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Graphic reading: Guidance for Schools and Districts: KDE guidance on Senate Bill 1, 2021 Extraordinary Session

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released a new guidance document on Sept. 20 to support schools and districts as they implement Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which was passed on Sept. 9 during the General Assembly’s recent special session.

SB1 provides supports and flexibility for schools as they seek to provide the best education possible for Kentucky’s students amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance document provides important updates to help schools and districts implement the legislation.

SB1 removed the statewide mask mandates for childcare centers and school facilities. However, local boards of education may continue to require mask usage at their discretion. The statewide mask mandate ended Sept. 17.

According to the guidance, all Kentucky school districts are required to submit a COVID-19 School Operations Plan to KDE. Districts may choose to submit an existing operations plan or create a new one. Districts should regularly revisit their COVID-19 School Operations Plan and are required to submit any subsequent revisions to KDE using this form.

SB1 requires the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) to create a model “Test to Stay” policy. Test to stay policies allow students to circumvent quarantine requirements through daily COVID-19 screenings. Districts wishing to implement a test to stay model should review the information on the DPH’s K-12 School COVID Testing Program webpage and contact their local health departments.

In the legislation, the General Assembly also granted districts the ability to temporarily assign individual schools, grades, classrooms or student groups to temporary remote instruction while the rest of the school or district keeps with in-person learning. Districts have up to 20 days to use for temporary remote instruction until Dec. 31.

Senate Bill 1 also:

  • Allows districts to substitute previous attendance data for the 2021-2022 school year in order to calculate the next school year’s Support Education Excellence in Kentucky funding.
  • Stipulates that if a district uses non-traditional instruction days for a COVID-19 related event, all certified and classified staff are required to report to their designated place of work to deliver instruction that day.
  • Provides districts with additional tools to meet staffing demands by giving them flexibility in hiring practices for emergency substitutes and retirees returning to work, but the flexibilities for retirees will expire in January.
  • Waives the requirement that a student instructional year contain 170 student attendance days but retains the requirement that districts provide a minimum of 1,062 instructional hours. Districts may adjust daily schedules to include no more than 7 hours of instructional time each day.

More details and specifications about the changes to SB1 are outlined in the “Guidance on Senate Bill 1, 2021 Extraordinary Session” document.

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