MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — While schools are closed for the rest of the academic year throughout Tennessee, class is still very much in session for Maryville City Schools, their director Mike Winstead said Thursday.
Their district is in a unique position as a one-to-one district, meaning every student has a laptop; and, after providing more than 300 hotspots, all MCS students have internet access. Teachers had also already received professional development training for online learning, dating back to 2014.
While these factors help, Winstead acknowledged, it’s still been a challenging transition.
“They’ve done a good job of focusing on those essential standards, those things that were left in their curriculum that were really, really, important for next year,” he said.
He explained they’re willing to work with students who are trying; however, said there will be consequences for ignoring assignments.
No student will fail a grade based on their final nine weeks. Winstead said those discussions happen earlier in the school year. But, he explained, if a student is not engaging online, and was already under-performing in a class, they may have to retake it.
“If you’ve had a C and have done nothing, it’s not going to be a C,” Winstead said.
“What we do expect, and what we’re trying to clearly communicate, to the 10 percent who are not engaging…they really have no reason they can’t log in to the learning management system and engage with their teacher and their classmates. We’re in school,” he added.
The students’ expectation is about three hours of work from home daily. Their teachers are also available for three digital office hours to provide additional help.
Though the last day of online class is May 8, he said teachers will spend the next two weeks on the students who saw their grades drop, who didn’t participate in online work, who are failing, or simply require extra help.
“The measure of how well we’ve done will come in August, when I certainly hope our kids are back in school and we’ve opened back up school that first week. My hope and expectation is our teachers will report our students are not too far from where they normally are and then that means we’ve done a great job during this school closure time.”
He also said the district will make efforts to remedy any impact of the closure, over the summer and into the new school year, to make sure everyone is “ready to go” by Labor Day.
Overall, he hopes this unprecedented time in education is a reminder of how important public education is to our society.
“I think it’s taken for granted at times, and I think maybe a good outcome from this and in the years ahead, it’s a hard job a teacher has and what they do year in and year is out is pretty amazing.”
He also said they’re committed to a graduation ceremony, which was originally scheduled May 15.
While he hopes to reschedule a traditional ceremony, he said they’re also discussing a digital alternative, “Our heart goes out to every one of them,” he said. MCS has more than 400 graduating seniors.