KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The first meeting for the group responsible for helping Knox County Schools develop its fall reopening plan amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic occurred Wednesday night.

The KCS community task force is providing feedback to the district as it navigates returning to class amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Bob Thomas told WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel that days like this help in planning for a reopening.

RELATED: Knox County Schools community task force one of multiple groups providing feedback for fall reopening plan

On Wednesday, the community task force combed through survey responses from students, parents and staff. Results came from more than 30 thousand people, an indication to the task force chairman, Dr. Jerry Askew of how important this issue is to the community.

“We need to ask the hard questions. We need to share whatever knowledge we have, because we’ve got to get it right in the fall,” Dr. Askew said.

The group is made up of nine members, recommended by each school board representative. Dr. Askew explained their role in reopening.

“Having another set of eyes on the data, having another set of ears out in the community to ask the questions and to listen to the parents, listen to the students, listen to the businesses, listen to all those constituents,” he said.

The task force looked at data from a KCS survey. One question asked which way those responding prefer schools to reopen for the year.

“Certainly a majority of people seem to hope that we’ll be able to find a way to safely come back in person. That’s probably at this point the most obvious observation I would have about the data,” Dr. Askew said.

“The main thing for us to do is to be ready, whatever the situation is, on August the 10th, and hopefully that situation is going to be we’re back in school. It’s going to look different,” said Superintendent Thomas.

Task force members also spent some time asking the Superintendent questions. One asked about internet connectivity. We also asked about it in our interview.

“If families don’t have internet access then what we’re looking at is hotspots, providing hotspots to students and families,” Thomas said.

Moving forward, Thomas says feedback and insight from the community task force and other focus groups of parents and teachers is important. It’s not lost on those chosen to serve.

“I think that they can rest assured that we have all agreed to take this responsibility very seriously,” said Dr. Askew.

The community task force will meet again on Monday.

Superintendent Thomas said the Board of Education is expecting a recommendation from him on a reopening plan on July 15.

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