KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A letter was sent to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee requesting the continuance of extra-curricular activities for schools in Knox County (Austin-East Magnet, Central High) that had to shift to virtual learning for an undisclosed reason.
That letter was sent and signed by Knox County Board of Education members, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, and Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas on Tuesday.
The letter states the sending parties’ concern is that, “…prohibiting all extra-curricular activities further compounds the negative impacts on our students.” Board members suggest — in the letter — that keeping after school activities running will also keep kids off the streets.
“I know there’s going to be the argument that they need to be home if schools are going to be closed, but kids don’t usually stay home when schools are closed. Chances are, they’re going to be somewhere,” said Kristi Kristy, Board of Education chair for KCS.
“Participation in extra-curricular activities is optional, healthy, and keeps our students off the streets and involved in school. With this month being National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, we are concerned that restricting these opportunities will adversely affect our students’ mental and physical well-being.”
The letter calls for Gov. Lee to reconsider prohibiting extra-curricular activities during remote instruction or allow the school district to make those decisions based on the situation in their community.
District 2 Representative Jennifer Owen sent the following statement:
“I can say that I was willing to add my signature because I believe the letter does the following”:
Asks the state to remove the cumbersome individual school waiver approval process that keeps districts from moving all schools to online learning when necessary.
Asks to use the KCS plan from 2020-2021 as the appropriate model, rather than just hit-or-miss protocols.
Asks for local control of extra-curricular activities when schools are virtual, rather than an automatic ban on everything.Jennifer Owen, District 2
You can read the letter in full below:
Austin-East and Central are scheduled to return to in-person instruction Monday, Sept. 13, unless otherwise notified.