Lockdowns and legislation

·3 min read
Atherton High School went on lockdown Tuesday afternoon after a report of a student with a weapon. Nov. 23, 2021
Atherton High School went on lockdown Tuesday afternoon after a report of a student with a weapon. Nov. 23, 2021

Welcome back, I hope the post-Thanksgiving break re-entry was at least relatively smooth.

Some good news: you didn't miss much on the education front.

The biggest story in schools from the past week? Atherton High School went into lockdown last Tuesday after a student reported seeing another student with a gun.

First, school officials said no weapon was found. Thirty minutes later, they said a gun was indeed found in a backpack in a locker. Everyone was safe, but the communication woes frustrated students who weren't sure what was happening and parents who found out about the lockdown via frantic texts from their kids.

Communication decisions are made at the school level, but Tuesday's confusion highlighted a potential need for a more uniform approach.

Atherton's lockdown was at least the fifth incident this school year that prompted a Jefferson County school to move to the highest security level. ICYMI: The number of security incidents was already four times higher than it was in the same timeframe in 2019.

And it was at least the 13th time a handgun was found in a school this year. The 14th time came the same day when a gun was confiscated from a McFerran Preparatory Academy student — the first handgun incident in an elementary school this year.

Paddling limits could be OTW

State legislation to ban physical discipline in schools has been filed and left to die for five years running — so state education officials are trying to step in.

The Kentucky Board of Education will consider a set of limits for how schools can use corporal punishment during its meeting Wednesday. It's the most they can do given they can't change state law.

Under the proposal, parents would have to give written consent for corporal punishment to be used on their kids. Additional verbal consent would be required before any physical discipline, too.

Schools could not paddle special education students, those in foster care or those who are homeless. And any student who receives corporal punishment would be required to receive at least 30 minutes of counseling by the end of the next school day.

The vast majority of Kentucky districts already banned physical discipline on their own, so this would impact around 15 districts if it passes.

Speaking of KBE…

Outside of the corporal punishment proposal, Wednesday's KBE meeting will feature education officials' wish list for lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session.

A draft legislative agenda says 'yes' to:

  • More funding across the board, particularly for full-day kindergarten and universal preschool;

  • Strengthening the educator pipeline, including more support for new teachers and a focus on having a more diverse teaching force.

And 'no' to:

  • School privatization efforts;

  • Anti-"critical race theory" legislation;

  • Anything that would prevent local school boards from implementing their own COVID-19 mitigation policies (aka legislation that would ban school-level mask mandates).

Another thing to watch for: Any details as to how many school districts are participating in KDE's vaccination bonus for school staff. We may soon have an idea of how many school employees are vaccinated in Kentucky.

COVID-19 by the numbers

As of Thanksgiving break, COVID-19 numbers have been holding steady in Jefferson County Public Schools.

Students missed a combined 1,405 instructional days in the first months of class due to quarantines, JCPS said in a response to a records request.

A little more than 28,000 kids needed to quarantine at least once by the start of November — close to one-third of all students.

Your homework

No homework this week. Class dismissed. OK, bye.

Reach Olivia Krauth at okrauth@courierjournal.com and on Twitter at @oliviakrauth.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Lockdowns and legislation

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting