Reopening Schools: East TN school districts announce start dates, COVID-19 health & safety plans for fall 2020

Education

A WATE 6 On Your Side timeline story of tentative dates announced by area school districts

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As school districts across East Tennessee are developing and releasing their reopening plans amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, keeping up with the information as it comes in hasn’t been easy.

The public health crisis earlier this year had cut the 2019-20 school year short, with many districts announcing the closure of schools during or after spring break.

Gov. Bill Lee had recommended in April that schools remain closed in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Now, school districts are aiming to reopen with safety precautions as well as virtual options in place this fall.

Reopening plans and the Tennessee Dept. of Education

The Tennessee Department of Education last month released a series of reopening “toolkits” for school districts around the state.

School districts are expected to turn in their final reopening plans to the state this month.

Below is a timeline by school district of the area districts’ plans and dates as the info comes into our newsroom:

Dates of school district start dates according to released/updated reopening plans:

July

Blount County Schools

  • Blount County Schools officials announced students will return to school on Wednesday, July 29.
  • The school district is offering an online option for the academic year, with about 25% of its students registered to participate virtually.
  • All students who attend school physically for in-class learning will be required to wear a face covering or mask in order to reduce infection and asymptomatic spread.
  • Social distancing will be encouraged.

READ MORE >> Reopening Schools: Blount County Schools to start July 29

Oak Ridge Schools

  • Oak Ridge Schools students would be returning to school on Wednesday, July 29.
  • Students will have options for either learning in-person or learning through an online resource called “ConnectOR.”
  • Oak Ridge Schools will also be requiring some students to wear masks: “After reviewing the current situation, students and staff are expected and will be required to wear face coverings when physical distancing is not possible. Students and staff who have a medical condition that makes the wearing of a face covering problematic are asked to consult your building principal. Such needs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. We appreciate everyone’s patience and support during this important time for our students, families, and staff.”

READ MORE >> Reopening Schools: Oak Ridge Schools to start July 29

Maryville City Schools

  • Maryville City Schools said its students would begin school this year in a staggered start for the first two days of school, July 30 and July 31.
  • The staggered start dates are assigned to students depending on the first letter of their last name.
  • The style of student attendance will also look different this year. The school district also said based on input from families, they currently had 83% signed up for in-person instruction, 15% for digital, and the remaining 2% hybrid.

READ MORE >> Maryville City Schools’ District Overview Document

August

Diocese of Knoxville

  • Bishop Richard F. Stika and Dr. Sedonna Prater, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of
    Knoxville, have announced a return to on-site learning at all 10 Catholic schools in the diocese for the 2020-21 academic year, which will begin on Monday, Aug. 3.
  • The plan includes an option for families to elect on-line, at-home learning with the flexibility to change to traditional classroom learning for their children at any time during the fall semester.
  • The following procedures and protocols will be enforced for on-campus learning to mitigate the risk and optimize the return of students to classrooms:
    • Infection-prevention education
    • Hygiene and sanitation, including safe cleaning and disinfecting protocols at schools
    • Adherence to physical and social distancing
    • Facial coverings to be worn by students and faculty
    • Outdoor classrooms when possible
    • Suspension of off-campus field trips
    • Extracurricular activities limited to students who attend classes on campus

Jefferson County Schools

  • Jefferson County Schools said this week they plan for students to return Monday, Aug. 3; with plans to hold in-person learning with a virtual option.
  • Superintendent Shane Johnston said he wanted parents to know that they planned to honor the academic calendar year the school board had approved in October.
  • Students reporting on campus for in-person learning will also be subject to some changes regarding health and safety, such as physical distance, temperature checks and possibly limiting movement between classrooms.

READ MORE >> Reopening Schools: Jefferson Co. Schools layout plans to welcome students back in the Fall

Campbell County Schools

  • Campbell County Schools announced students will return to school on Wednesday, Aug. 5.
  • Schools will reopen in a “traditional manner,” officials said, but there will be safety protocols in place, such as temperature checks, frequent hand-washing breaks, and available hand sanitizer in all classrooms.
  • Face coverings for students are recommended, but won’t be mandatory.

Loudon County Schools

  • The Loudon County Board of Education voted on July 9 to approve the district School Reopening Plan. Loudon County students will return to school Friday, Aug. 7.

Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our students while being able to provide appropriate academic instruction and meet students’ social-emotional needs. Registration dates for traditional in-person instruction will be communicated by individual schools.

All parents opting for Virtual School, an alternate technology-based option with the same expectations as related to instructional time on task, attendance, and grading as in-person learning in a 6.5 hour learning day, must register online by July 17, 2020.

Loudon County Schools

Monroe County Schools

  • Monroe County Schools students will return to schools on Friday, Aug. 7.
  • The Monroe County Schools Board of Education approved the district’s reopening plan at its July 9 meeting; with the plan allowing district leaders to “flip the switch” during the school year if COVID-19 cases rise too greatly.
  • Staff and students will be screened in temperature checks daily; other adjustments to the cafeteria schedule and athletics schedule have been made in the plan.
  • A color-coded benchmark system was also discussed and is part of the school district’s reopening plan.

Clinton City Schools

  • Clinton City Schools is also reopening schools on a staggered start; with the first day of classes for grades 1-6 on Friday, Aug. 7 and Monday, Aug. 10; grades 2-5 will have their first days of school, and grades 3-4 will begin their academic year on Tuesday, Aug. 11. School officials also saying the first day when all students, grades 1-6 will be in the building at the same time will be Wednesday, Aug. 12.
  • Kindergarten students will report on a staggered schedule via lettered groups assigned to certain dates: Group A on August 10th, Group B on Aug 11, Group C on Aug. 12, and Group D on Aug. 13 with dismissal time each day at 11:30 a.m.
  • New health measures include health check stations at each entrance fo the each school for temperature checks before entry. If a student of staff member has a fever of 100.4 or higher, they will not be able to enter the building and will have to wait 72 hours after their fever breaks to return.

Emerald Academy

  • Emerald Academy, Knoxville’s only public charter school, shared its reopening plan for the upcoming school year with scholars and parents Thursday evening.
  • Emerald Academy will reopen Monday, Aug. 10. This is a delay of two weeks from the originally scheduled start date of July 27, 2020. The school day will begin at 8:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:15 p.m.
  • Parents have the option of choosing between in-person or distance learning for their scholar and must notify the school of their decision by 5:00 p.m. July 20, 2020, to allow for planning and appropriate staffing. Once selected, families will be committed to their option through the end of the fall semester.
  • Emerald Academy will offer one-to-one technology, meaning every scholar will have a Google Chromebook to use in the classroom and at home.

Anderson County Schools

  • Anderson County Schools said this week students would return to class starting on Monday, Aug. 10.
  • The Anderson County Schools Board of Education voted on and approved its reopening plan at its July 6 committee meeting.
  • The reopening plan indicates that while the first day of school for students will be Aug. 10, the first three days will be a staggered start to allow staff and students to become familiar with new safety and daily operating procedures. Principals are expected to send information regarding the staggered start schedule.

READ MORE >> Reopening Schools: Anderson County Schools announce start dates, virtual option, and other changes for this upcoming year

Knox County Schools

UPDATE: In an email to parents, Knox County Schools announced that the first day of school (in-person and virtual) will be delayed one week to Monday, Aug. 24.

  • Knox County Schools announced its start date for Monday, Aug. 17 for its students and staff.
  • A plan has been in development since early June, with the district releasing surveys, holding focus groups and assigning a community task force to advise on its reopening plan.
  • The Knox County Board of Education was scheduled to hear and discuss Superintendent Bob Thomas’ plan presentation on July 15 — approving the plan with 9 “yes” votes.

READ MORE >> Knox County Schools delay start of classes until Aug. 24
KCS releases reopening plan that includes virtual learning option, start date Aug. 17

SEE ALSO >> 6 Things to Know about Knox County Schools reopening plan

Sevier County School System

  • The Sevier County School System Board of Education voted Monday to push back the start of the 2020-2021 school year by four days — making the new start date Monday, Aug. 17.
  • The extra four days will help teachers and staff plan and train for students to be in their classrooms or online.
  • The start of the school year will also be staggered; students with last names between A and L will start school on Aug. 17 while students with last names between M and Z will start on Aug. 18 and then all students will be back Aug. 19.

READ MORE >> Sevier County school board votes to start school 4 days later

Cocke County Schools

  • Cocke County Schools will delay the start of the 2020-2021 school year for all students until Monday, Aug. 17
  • The Board of Education will meet in regular session on Aug. 13 to discuss the necessary amendments to the 2020-2021 school calendar. 

READ MORE >> Cocke County Schools delay start of fall semester

September

Hamblen County Schools

  • Hamblen County Schools will delay the start of the fall semester to September, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Perry confirmed Friday.
  • Fall semester at Hamblen County Schools will now begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The school year was originally set to begin on Friday, July 31. Perry said in a letter to parents that a decision on whether classes will be in-person, online or a hybrid model will be made in August.
  • Hamblen County currently has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the country. The county was recently one of several counties considered in the “red zone,” according to a White House document regarding COVID-19 cases.

READ MORE >> Coronavirus in Tennessee: Hamblen County Schools delay start of semester to September

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