KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The superintendent of Knox County Schools said in a message to families Wednesday that the enrollment window for next school year was postponed after the school district learned of an upcoming Tennessee State Board of Education decision on virtual learning.

The announcement of the enrollment postponement was made as the Knox County Schools Board of Education work session meeting was underway. Enrollment for KCS families to make their students’ attendance selection was previously scheduled for April 15-23. A new enrollment window has not yet been determined because school district leaders are waiting for state guidance once a decision is made by the State Board of Education.

Superintendent Bob Thomas stated in the message to KCS families that the district had learned Wednesday that the State Board of Education will be holding a special-called meeting on Monday, April 12 to consider a rule that would affect the ability of school districts to offer daily virtual instruction in the upcoming school year.

If approved, this rule would require virtual students in Tennessee to un-enroll from their base school and enroll in a virtual school approved by the state.

Thomas’ message went on to state that Knox County Schools’ plan would be to apply for three Knox County virtual schools for elementary, middle, and high school students, with each having a capacity of 1,500 students as required by law.

But no decision is yet made. Knox County Schools is postponing its enrollment window for virtual learning for the 2021-22 school year. The postponement will give the district more time to obtain guidance about the State Board’s decision and to determine its plan for virtual learning, according to Thomas.

The following email was sent to Knox County Schools families around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday:

Dear KCS families,

I have a very important update regarding our plans for the 2021-22 school year.

We learned today that the State Board of Education is holding a special-called meeting on Monday, April 12, to consider a rule that would affect the ability of school districts to offer daily virtual instruction in the upcoming school year.

If approved, this rule would require virtual students in Tennessee to un-enroll from their base school and enroll in a virtual school approved by the state. Our plan would be to apply for three Knox County virtual schools for elementary, middle, and high school students, with each having a capacity of 1,500 students as required by law.

As a result of this announcement, Knox County Schools is postponing our enrollment window for virtual learning for the 2021-22 school year. This postponement will give our district more time to obtain guidance about the State Board’s decision and to determine our plan for virtual learning. In the meantime, we will continue to have conversations with the State Board.

In addition, the Knox County Board of Education is scheduled this evening to discuss health protocols for in-person instruction in the 2021-22 school year. The Knox County Board is expected to vote on those protocols at a meeting next week, on April 14. Postponing the virtual enrollment window will also give families additional time to consider the KCS health protocols before making a decision.

I apologize for any confusion this may cause. However, I do believe that waiting until more information is available will help every family make the best decision for their student.

Please note that this announcement does not affect our enrollment for elementary and middle school summer learning programs. The deadline for eligible families to enroll in our free summer learning programs is Tuesday, April 20. More information can be found at knoxschools.org/summerlearning.

As always, thank you for your support of Knox County Schools.

Sincerely,Bob Thomas
Superintendent
Knox County Schools