On March 31, 2021 the final gavel fell on an historic 2021 Kentucky General Assembly. Despite the many obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of our state legislature continued and delivered some bright spots for Kentucky’s kids enrolled in early childhood learning facilities and K-12 schools.
Perhaps the most responsive item to the needs of Kentucky’s K-12 students is Senate Education Committee Chairman Max Wise’s Senate Bill 128, otherwise known as the “Do-Over” bill. While all Kentuckians are impacted in ways large and small by the pandemic, children often felt the ill-effects of the crisis most personally. In school districts throughout the commonwealth, children were removed from their in-person classrooms for nearly a full calendar year. For many, lost were the in-person connections between students and teachers, coaches and athletes, and the benefits of in-person learning.
Senate Bill 128 will provide Kentucky’s public and nonpublic K-12 students the option to complete a “do-over” of their school year that has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any K-12 student enrolled in a nonpublic or public school during the 2020-2021 school year can choose to retake or supplement that schooling during the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. Students will not be penalized for electing to pursue a supplemental, “do-over” year.
Students and their families must submit their request for a “do-over” school year to their local board of education no later than May 1, 2021. Be sure to contact your local school district to receive information on how to submit your request for a “do-over.”
Local boards of education must accept or deny all student requests no later than June 1, 2021. Individual student requests can not be accepted or denied. Local school boards must accept all student requests, or none at all. The local board must also submit its implementation plan, along with any requests for regulatory waivers, to the Kentucky Board of Education by June 16, 2021. Find more information pertaining to the duties of local boards of education from the Kentucky Department of Education.
Kentucky Youth Advocates and many of our statewide partners are hopeful that local boards of education will permit K-12 students the opportunity to pursue a supplemental year of in-person education. While some students may have adapted well to remote or virtual learning, this is not the case for all students. For example, many Kentuckians still struggle with accessing the internet in a state that ranks 40th in broadband access; online learning has been more challenging for students in low-income households; and national experts warn of decreased literacy and numeracy skills for students engaged in online e-learning. A “do-over” year may be best suited to student needs.
All of us at Kentucky Youth Advocates would like to thank Senator Wise for his leadership on Senate Bill 128 and strongly support local boards of education who are able to make a “do-over” year for their students a reality. For more information about Senate Bill 128, check out this interview conducted by Sam Corbett of Assignment Education.
Additionally, we applaud the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly for their work to:
- Ensure funds to support the education and early education of Kentucky kids in the state’s continuation budget and other measures, including:
- Sustaining funding for critically important Family Resource Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs)
- Allocating funds to close gaps in broadband infrastructure and ensure more reliable internet access
- Sustaining funding for school safety and school based health providers
- Appropriating funds to support full-day kindergarten
- Increasing funds for child care providers serving children eligible for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)
- Lessen the burden of local planning and zoning regulations on in-home family child care providers (Senate Bill 148)
While we celebrate many wins for kids and their education this session, the work is far from over! We and our partners are already hard at work preparing for the 2022 Kentucky legislative session so that we can make Kentucky the best place in America to be a kid.