Councilman Winkler calls upon JCPS to work with community partners to provide in-person learning for the coming school year

July 17, 2020

Louisville – Councilman Markus Winkler (D-17) is calling upon the Jefferson County Public School Board to reconsider any decision not to resume in-person learning to begin the upcoming school year.

While safety and science should guide such decisions, the councilman says if the JCPS Board votes for no in- person learning the school system will have missed an opportunity to mobilize the full resources of the community to collectively solve this problem. It is an issue that goes beyond JCPS and impacts every resident and business of Louisville. As such, Councilman Winkler believes it is a problem that should not be left to JCPS alone to solve.

“Reopening schools for in-person learning is critical to the health, safety, and prosperity of Louisville. Pediatricians and psychologists tell us it’s critical for healthy development. Student outcomes are better, children who are occupied typically get into less trouble, and parents who work require the supervision that schools provide,” says Winkler. “I am concerned that without in-person learning we will dramatically impact our economic reopening today and face an uncertain future as countless students are ‘lost’, disconnected, or otherwise at risk of failing to reach their full potential.

The councilman is calling on Mayor Fischer, JCPS leadership, non-profits, and our business community to come together to create a solution. It should not be viewed as a one-size-fits-all model, attempting to adhere to guidelines in the system’s existing framework. Rather he maintains that it should identify and utilize all available resources to resolve this problem. As a starting point the councilman recommends:

  • An inventory of all available indoor space across Jefferson County to serve as ancillary sites for JCPS. Utilize libraries, community centers, the YUM! Center, the Convention Center, the fairgrounds, available office space, empty retail space, etc. to provide the footprint necessary to adequately distance students.
  • Identifying how TARC resources can be utilized to solve the transportation issues.
  • Outfitting remote classrooms with closed-circuit video, enabling us to appropriately distance students without the need to hire significantly more teachers (remote classrooms could require classroom monitors, not certified teachers).
  • Special accommodations for students, teachers, and staff with increased health concerns that limit their risk of infection (e.g. the teacher instructs remotely rather than the student learns remotely).

“If JCPS is unable to find a solution, I believe it is incumbent upon Metro Government to explore options to create in-person remote learning centers that provide safe learning environments for students and enable parents to return to work. I will be asking the mayor to develop a plan to make all necessary Metro government facilities available. We must have secure spaces with internet connectivity that allow our students to learn, parents to work, and businesses to thrive. What I am proposing may not look like "normal" school. It would require flexibility and would undoubtedly be difficult in some ways. But just as we have solved innumerable problems before, from the very small to the seemingly impossible, we can solve this, too – together,” says Winkler.