Knox County Schools officials developing plan for fall 2020

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Officials with Knox County Schools as well as community members are continuing to develop a plan for reopening in fall 2020 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a board of education meeting Wednesday, school district leaders discussed some of the options as the district earlier this week asked for families’ input in a survey regarding reopening.

PREVIOUS STORY: Knox County Schools asks families for survey input in reopening schools in fall 2020

District leaders aim to soon work with focus groups consisting of students, teachers, principals and parents to seek insight from multiple perspectives about the fall semester.

“Our goal is to be prepared for three possibilities when school resumes in the fall,” KCS superintendent Bob Thomas said in a release. “Ideally, students and teachers will return to the classroom as normal, while embracing new safety measures such as physical distancing.”

KCS superintendent Thomas said he discussed three scenarios for reopening in fall 2020 — the first being the ideal normal learning schedule, with students and teachers returning to the classroom, but with new safety measures in place.

Two reopening alternative scenarios

The other two reopening options or alternatives for student learning include:

  • The “hybrid approach”

KCS described an option for a hybrid approach in which ​students would attend school part-time and receive in-person instruction from their teacher in a classroom.

In this scenario, part-time classroom instruction would be supplemented ​by a student’s teacher with remote learning. This could possibly involve staggering student attendance to allow for physical distancing and extra cleaning of school facilities.

  • Full-time remote learning

The second alternative would be a strategy of full-time remote learning, led by KCS teachers, that covers new material and allows for graded assignments, using the electronic devices provided through our 1:1 initiative.

Last month, the school board approved the purchase of Chromebooks and devices for all students in the district.

READ MORE: Knox County school board approves plan to buy 60,000 laptops with federal funding

Below is the full statement sent out to KCS families on Wednesday, June 3:

Dear KCS families,
I know that our students, families and district staff have many questions about how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will affect the fall semester, and I wanted to provide a brief update about our planning.
We are monitoring the situation very closely, in conjunction with state and local authorities, and we have developed a three-part strategy to help shape our decision-making.
First, we have created a survey to solicit feedback from students, families and staff. That survey is available on our website, and we welcome your responses.
Second, we have established a task force of community members from each school board district that will be led by Dr. Jerry Askew, President of the Alliance for Better Nonprofits. We believe this task force will provide an additional layer of communication to guide our planning.
Finally, we will be working with focus groups of students, teachers, principals and parents to seek insight from multiple perspectives about the fall semester.
Our goal is to be prepared for three possibilities when school resumes in the fall. Ideally, students and teachers will return to the classroom as normal, while embracing new safety measures such as physical distancing.
But we are also preparing for two alternative scenarios. The first is a hybrid approach in which ​students would attend school part-time and receive in-person instruction from their teacher in a classroom. In this scenario, part-time classroom instruction would be supplemented ​by a student’s teacher with remote learning. This could possibly involve staggering student attendance to allow for physical distancing and extra cleaning of school facilities.
The second alternative would be a strategy of full-time remote learning, led by KCS teachers, that covers new material and allows for graded assignments, using the electronic devices provided through our 1:1 initiative.
We want to ensure that resources, plans and procedures are in place so that the work of education doesn’t miss a beat this fall, and I’m confident we’ll be able to achieve that goal.
As always, we will share additional details on our website, through mass notifications and on our social media channels as soon as they are available. I’m grateful for your continued support during these challenging times, and I look forward to starting a new school year in August!
Sincerely,
Bob Thomas
Superintendent
Knox County Schools

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