COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — In 2020, a classroom has become a dining room table, an at-home office, or the kitchen counter — the impacts of a pandemic that forced school districts across the country to offer virtual learning.
In East Tennessee, Cocke County is one of those school districts navigating the “new normal” for education, juggling virtual learning and in-person classes.
Through the end of December, all Cocke County Schools will adhere to “Remote Learning Fridays,” due to increased numbers in all schools.
On Facebook, the district posted a reminder to families that the transition is also due, in part, to contact tracing from positive COVID-19 exposure.
“It wasn’t really a hard decision for us to keep her to do the remote learning,” said Bobbie Price Shelton, who’s a mother to a first-grader at Edgemont Elementary in Cocke County.
Shelton is a stay-at-home Mom, she was looking for jobs when the pandemic hit and made the choice to stay home when she realized her then-Kindergartner would be learning from their dining room virtually.
Her daughter, Cami, didn’t have the traditional Kindergarten “graduation,” she just started First Grade using Bobbie’s cell phone to log in for Google class.
That, Bobbie said, was difficult. A cell phone is small and adjusting to the virtual curriculum wasn’t always seamless.
“It’s a little complicated,” Shelton said.
In the weeks and months that followed, Shelton said they upgraded to a Chromebook — one she bought Cami as a birthday gift.
Her daughter’s teacher sends weekly packets of assignments and outlines what days and what pages she should review before “logging on” to class.
Cami, a first grade student who was excited to share about her Wednesday math lesson, has found her favorite parts of this “new normal.”
“Well, I can tell you my favorite part of going on the Google classroom thing. I get to see my friends. We get to watch the video,” said Cami.
She misses her friends and snack time, but says she likes staying home — for now.
While the Sheltons opted to go 100% virtual this semester, other students within the Cocke County School District go to school in-person.
Within the last week, some schools have temporarily gone virtual because of low attendance numbers in staff and students due to COVID-19.
Cocke County Schools posted on Facebook a message to the community about changes to the schedule.