523 Fayette students want a do-over after a year of pandemic learning. Will they get it?

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At least 523 Fayette County schools families are asking under a new law that their children be allowed to repeat the 2020-2021 school year upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deadline to apply under the so-called “do-over” law was May 1. Fayette County Public Schools district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Tuesday night that of those applications, 167 are at the elementary level; 114 at middle schools and 242 at high schools.

Jennifer Pool Lloyd said she made one of the requests under the law designed for students who suffered academically while many Kentucky students learned virtually from home in 2020-2021 until spring.

“My son is a special education student who could not access virtual learning based on his level of disabilities,” Lloyd said. “We would like the supplemental year to make up for what he did not get when school was closed to in person learning.”

Under the law, the Fayette County Board of Education and other districts in Kentucky must decide before June 1, 2021, to either accept all of the requests from students or none of them.

Deffendall said Fayette school board members will discuss the issue at the May 10 work session.

As the law requires, they will make a decision on May 24 to approve all or none of the requests the district of more than 40,000 students has received.

The new law approved in March by the Kentucky General Assembly allows students currently enrolled in grades K-12 to use the 2021-22 school year to retake or supplement courses or grades they have taken in 2020-21.

What makes the program different from the current method of retaining students is that it allows families to request retention, and it creates a pathway for seniors who have earned enough credits to graduate to return for a fifth year of high school.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 128, which created the “Supplemental School Year Program,” state Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, has said he viewed the legislation as helping students who lost a year of opportunities in learning and extra-curricular activities, mental health and relationships.

Local school districts will determine what is reasonable in coming up with their supplemental plan and then submit their proposal to KDE by June 16, Wise has said.

In Louisville, about 770 families out of the 96,000 students in Jefferson County Public Schools requested a supplemental year, the Courier-Journal reported.

In school districts where those requests are approved, students won’t be able to retake, supplement courses or repeat grade levels from any school year before 2020-21, and they can’t use the supplemental school year to explore courses they did not have the opportunity to take in prior years.

Students choosing the supplemental year can participate in extracurricular activities. Student athletes in their senior year could get a fifth year of eligibility in high school, but must meet Kentucky High School Association age and other eligibility requirements. If the student is 19 before August 1, 2021, they will be ineligible for KHSAA sports during the 2021-22 school year.