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Friday, July 24, 2020

Fort Thomas Announces Delayed Start to School Year, Will Move to Five Days Per Week of In-Person

Fort Thomas Independent Schools announce return to school on Aug. 26 with five days of in-person instruction and options for remote learning. (FTM FILE)


With the approval of the Board of Education, the Fort Thomas Independent Schools announced today that the District will return to five days per week of in-person instruction, with the school year beginning one week later than originally planned on August 26, 2020. Months of consultation with various stakeholders in the Fort Thomas school community as well as local and state health officials prompted the decision.

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“As we all would agree, in-person learning with our trusted teaching staff is the ideal approach for educating all of our students,” said Dr. Karen Cheser, superintendent in Fort Thomas. “However, in the middle of a global health crisis, we have to reassess and ensure we are not only providing the highest-level educational opportunities but also keeping the health and safety of our students and staff as our primary objective.”

Because of facilities and funding, as well as faculty numbers that are above the Kentucky average in Fort Thomas, the District will be able to safely welcome all students back into our schools Monday Friday, instead of implementing an A/B rotational model in which half of the students attend on a particular day, but the teachers instruct five days per week.

Fort Thomas will open its five schools while strictly adhering to the Healthy at School guidelines that the Commonwealth of Kentucky established in conjunction with safety, health and medical experts. The guidance includes recommendations about hand sanitizing, contact tracing, temperature screenings, room cleaning, social distancing, and the wearing of masks when remaining six feet apart is unsustainable. Each one of the schools has crafted and approved a list of plans and protocols designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our buildings and on our busses.

The District is also fully committed to meeting the needs of all of our students and families, and the re-entry plan offers flexibility. Parents will have the option to select a “remote learning” option that differs from the Non-Traditional Instruction model (“NTI”) in place during the Spring of 2020.

Remote learning:

- Uses a program designed specifically for virtual learning and is based on grade-level standards

- Contains specific pacing objectives built around a full-day school schedule.

- Assigns a FTIS teacher to guide and support the student during school hours

- Supports the student and family through communication, social/emotional instruction, special needs support and extracurricular involvement.

If parents select the “remote learning” option, that path of instruction will remain in place for the entire semester.

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“Throughout this process we have considered the physical, mental, academic, and social well-being of students, regardless of which option you choose,” Dr. Cheser added. “This year will be different from any other and we ask for flexibility and understanding as our staff works to teach our children.”

The District will remain fully engaged with health experts to monitor trends in COVID-19 infections and make any necessary adjustments to our re-entry protocols as circumstances warrant.

“We really miss our kids and want them to come back and learn safely,” said Karen Allen, the Chair of the Board of Education. “Welcoming them back to school has been a monumental undertaking but a rewarding one. I salute the students, parents, administrators, teachers and staff, as well as the Fort Thomas Education Foundation, SBDM councils and the Re-Entry Task Force for their work in making all of this possible.”

A delayed start to school will allow administrators, teachers and staff in our five schools to practice and master the safety protocols that will be in place during the school day to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the Fort Thomas Independent Schools.

For more information on the re-entry plan in Fort Thomas, please refer to the website.

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