LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For thousands of Kentucky students, the 2020-2021 school year was one to forget.
Almost everyone learned virtually for part of the year, putting a strain on students and parents.
However, a new state bill would allow students grades K-12 a chance to repeat their current grade level, provided their local school district signs off on it.
SB128, dubbed the “redo bill,” was passed on March 16 with bipartisan support, and is currently sitting on Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk waiting to be signed into law.
According to the bill, students may “request to use the 2021-2022 school year as a supplemental school year to retake or supplement the courses or grades the student has already taken. A retaken high school course under this subsection shall not count as an additional credit towards graduation unless the student failed the original course. Retaking a course under this section shall count towards full-time enrollment for the student.”
The bill also has major ramifications for high school seniors.
Provided they meet KHSAA age guidelines, seniors would be granted an extra year of eligibility, meaning they could play their sport for a fifth year. Students would be disqualified if they turn 19 years old before August 1, 2021.
That clause provides senior student athletes a second chance at pursuing their athletic dreams.
“We were literally jumping in the middle of our living room floor,” Shawna Fitzpatrick said. “Because this is a huge deal for them. This is a huge opportunity for them.”
Fitzpatrick’s son Isaiah is a two-sport athlete at Anderson County High School who has dreams of playing football at the collegiate level. Because of COVID-19, games and camps were canceled, limiting his exposure to college coaches. Fitzpatrick also told WAVE 3 News virtual learning hindered her son’s ability to prepare for the ACT and other college entry exams.
“It’s been tough,” Fitzpatrick said. “It has been really, really hard, because you see a kid that wants it so bad and it’s just not, it’s not possible. And it’s frustrating, because no matter how hard he tried, there was nothing that was going to be that was changing.”
Senator Max Wise sponsored the bill and told WAVE 3 News it’s a major win for students who feel like the COVID-19 pandemic set them back academically or athletically.
“They just need to get back to some sort of normalcy, because this has not been normal; we all know that,” Wise said. “But we do think if this is what’s best for the child, let’s go for it. Let’s give them this opportunity.”
Wise said the bill will give local school districts the control to approve or deny the extra year, while also allowing them to determine what the extra year will look like for seniors, many who already have the necessary credits to graduate. Wise also said districts may use the extra year to be creative, and allow students an opportunity to learn outside the classroom through a trade school, an internship or a co-op program.
“This is going to be great for internship opportunities, for students to be able to actually work,” Wise said. “If that senior, like you said, has graduated, they can make some money by doing some type of program that’s a co-op. Some are wanting to use this as dual-credit time to work on colleges, in terms of getting some college credit in. So I think the districts ultimately across the Commonwealth can be very creative on how they wish to do this.”
Regardless of what the curriculum looks like, Fitzpatrick told WAVE 3 News she’s excited to see her son get another opportunity to chase his dreams.
“Let him work towards what his goals have always been to try and accomplish them,” Fitzpatrick said.
According to the bill, the students must submit the request to redo the year to their local boards of education by May 1, 2021. The local board must make the decision to allow a redo year by June 1. A local board that approves a redo year must have a plan in place to implement the supplemental year of education by June 16, 2021.
The redo year must be determined on a “all-or-nothing” basis, meaning local districts must approve the extra year for every student who applies or for none.
To read the full bill, click here.