Austin-East, Central high schools moving to virtual learning for a week

Education

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Students at Austin-East Magnet and Central High School will be on a virtual learning schedule after returning from their Labor Day holiday. In similar letters sent to parents and staff on Saturday, Central High Principal Andrew Brown and Austin-East Principal Tammi Campbell said students will move to online learning Tuesday, Sept. 7 through Friday, Sept. 10.

Knox County Schools also announced the move Saturday on Twitter.

While no specific reason is given, the move comes as absences among students and staff at schools in Knox County and the state have continued to climb. Knox County School’s COVID-19 dashboard shows nearly 680 active cases, 594 students and 85 staff members, across the entire school system.

All extracurricular and athletic activities for the week are also canceled for the week as well. The Central Bobcats football team was scheduled to host Gibbs on Friday. The Road Runners were slated to travel to Scott.

“Please know that this decision was not made lightly,” the letter states. “Superintendent (Bob) Thomas submitted a waiver request on Friday to temporarily move our school to remote learning, and this request was approved today by Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.”

The letter goes on to say in-person instruction will start back again on Monday, Sept. 13, unless otherwise notified.

After a lengthy debate Wednesday, the Knox County Schools Board of Education voted 5-4 against a mask mandate in its schools. The board did, however, implement isolation leave for full-time KCS employees who test positive for COVID-19 and update its attendance policy to allow students to be counted as present when they get their assignments from teachers online or by phone and complete them.

A copy of the letter sent to Austin-East and Central parents, students and faculty is seen below:

Dear Central families,

This is your principal, Andrew Brown, with an important message. Our school will move to online learning beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7, through Friday, Sept. 10. (Please remember that Monday, Sept. 6, is Labor Day and a district holiday.) During this time, all students should log in to their Chromebooks for synchronous class meetings, following their normal daily schedule. All extracurricular and athletic activities for the week are cancelled per the Tennessee Department of Education. Students will return to school for in-person instruction on Monday, Sept. 13, unless otherwise notified.

Please know that this decision was not made lightly. Superintendent Thomas submitted a waiver request on Friday to temporarily move our school to remote learning, and this request was approved today by Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

If you need to pick up your student’s Chromebook from school or any other personal items that are needed to continue learning, please call the school to schedule a pick-up time. To receive meals next week, please complete the meal request form at www.knoxschools.org/mealsrequest. Please note that due to the holiday, there will only be one meal pickup on Wednesday.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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