CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — The 2021-2022 school year is less than a month away, and school districts are getting ready for the changes from the year before. The previous school year was one for the history books with face masks, temperature checks, social distancing, online learning, contact tracing and more all because of COVID-19.
“All that stuff has really been lifted. So, our classrooms are going to look a lot more normal. The dividers are going to be gone. The mask wearing is completely optional,” Ryan Sutton, spokesperson for ACS, said.
Sutton was most excited to share the news about sports and performances: families and friends can watch again without restrictions. “Last year we had a limited amount of spectators at our sporting events and our different plays and programs that we have. This year it’s going to be normal. So we’ll be back at normal capacity for those things, starting with football season and volleyball season,” Sutton said.
As far as online learning, Sutton said the district always had an online option (ACOLA) for high school and middle school students. For 2021-2022, the district added an online curriculum for elementary, but Sutton said any online options won’t be available for all students, only those who are eligible.
Sutton said the district is keeping several protocols from the year of COVID-19. He said they noticed through some of the practices, such as social distancing when possible and sanitizing or washing hands as often as possible, they didn’t see as many other illnesses pop up either.
“That’s going to be something that we emphasize because we learned from COVID to keep, you know, wash those hands a little bit more and maybe sanitize a little bit more,” Sutton said.
Another aspect staying from last year is a nurse in every building. Sutton said they didn’t have that before COVID-19, and are fortunate the district was able to hire back all nurses for each building.
“If there is by chance something that pops out of nowhere, we will already have staff prepared to take care of that because there is that variant that is looming around that could possibly get us, that could possibly not,” Sutton said.
On that note, Sutton said this year nurses will be able to perform COVID-19 tests at their school, that way they’ll know if a student or teacher doesn’t have or has COVID-19 within 15 minutes. The district is also keeping a ‘sick room’ and ‘well room’ in all the schools.
“If a student shows any symptoms of any kind of illness, regardless if it’s a COVID symptom or a stomach bug, or something like that, they will be going to the sick room instead of the well room,” Sutton said.
Sutton said the well room will be for students who just need to take medication or need something like adhesive bandages; students who aren’t showing symptoms of anything. All in all, students and parents can look forward to having a fairly normal school year again–and actually, see their classmates and teachers faces according to Sutton.
“I like to see somebody smile, I like to see their facial expressions and it will be nice to see, you know, that again and hopefully the hugs and the high-fives and stuff will return as well for the students,” Sutton said.
Classed for Anderson County Schools start Aug. 9 on a staggered schedule.