Last week’s special session entered our minds and our newsfeeds as quickly as it is now gone. Along with the Beshear administration and members of the General Assembly, we will continue to assess results for the 2022 legislative session and the biennial state budget.
No group of Kentuckians deserves decisive action more than our young people – and the good news is that this call to action has been heard loud and clear by our leaders in Frankfurt.
Here are some bright spots for children:
• Legislate the option for school districts to use emerging “Test and Stay” best practices to keep students healthy and learning.
• Include the following iteration non-traditional teaching with flexibility for the settings around the days used.
• Began to meet the needs of the workforce in schools by allowing local school districts to employ individuals who comply with background checks required to serve as short- or long-term substitute teachers.
• Quarantines and authorized shutdowns be based on class, grade level and school and not based on district until December 31st.
• Designated discretionary funds for pandemic relief to implement testing measures to ensure safety against COVID-19.
However, we find ourselves with some puzzling considerations as we approach 2022 and better understand the aggravating impact of the pandemic:
• There was a lack of consistency when the principle of local control is most appropriate. For example, the legislature provided local decision-making power over when a school district can revise its school calendar while ensuring that distance education can only be provided to one school, class, class. or a particular group of students for a maximum of 20 days. In addition, the law requires educators to report to the school building during non-traditional instruction, which makes it unclear whether local school districts should be able to make this decision for their staff.
• Missed opportunity Create a transparent and constantly updated dashboard around school-by-school pandemic data, ensure proper masking protocol within school districts, and emphasize the need to assess student progress.
• Didn’t take luck into account Designate block funding for school districts to leverage Medicaid matches as seed money for school health and mental health supports.
• You missed the opportunity to speak the impact of the pandemic on our most vulnerable within the child protection system by bolstering funds for the DCBS workforce or bolstering support for older youth as they age as a family reception with employment and housing services. Time and time again, the General Assembly has demonstrated its commitment to child safety, but strengthening the system against child abuse and protecting children was not a priority during the special session.
• Has no dedicated media for Kentucky’s struggling child care industry. As we look to 2022, we can better support our child care centers and the families and communities they serve by prioritizing retention and recruitment of employees and relieving parents of the cost of paying for child care. of children.
As January approaches, there is a huge opportunity for a widespread and equitable pandemic recovery for all Kentucky children and their families. We call on the General Assembly and the Beshear Administration to take the next steps on these missed opportunities of the Special Session. And we call on local school boards to adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control age and development guidelines on how best to keep children safe in school and support efforts to COVID-19 vaccination in their districts.
Children rely on their leaders in Frankfurt – and in their communities – to speak up for them and make decisions that will keep them healthy, safe and hopeful.
Dr Terry Brooks is Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates who believes that all children deserve to be safe, healthy and secure. As THE independent voice of Kentucky’s children, KYA ensures that policymakers create investments and policies that benefit children.