KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The deadline for parents to register their child for virtual classes for Knox County Schools is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
As the deadline approaches, some parents are waiting until the last minute to decide if they want their child to attend school virtually or in person.
Shannon Hodges-Hall, a parent of an upcoming freshman at South Doyle High, said she finally made the decision Tuesday night for her son to attend virtually, but it wasn’t easy to make.
“I just came to that decision because I would hate myself if he got sick,” Hall said.
She said she didn’t trust that students would follow safety practices completely after students got more comfortable at school, nor did she think students would be able to social distance due to the amount of students at the school.
A few parents told WATE 6 On Your Side that they chose online classes because they were concerned for their child’s safety, and the safety of those who are at-risk in their home.
Another parent wasn’t necessarily concerned about is students would follow the guidelines, but instead the fact that they have to follow certain guidelines, which is why her son will participate in the virtual option.
“He’s going into fourth grade. I asked him what him what he wanted to do. He loves going to school, but he just can’t handle wearing the mask the whole day,” Alexandria Nunn said.
Nunn said her 4th grader is a student at Karns Elementary.
She said he wears masks when they go out in public, but they don’t have to wear them all day.
Another common reason for parents choosing virtual classes was consistency.
“Virtual learning will be more consistent when the school systems inevitably will shut down due to increased COVID cases or other absences,” Tracy Linardo, a parent with a child in 3rd and 6th grade, said.
One common concern of parents WATE 6 On Your Side talked with was how the district was going to make sure virtual students focused on school work all day.
Halls laughed when asked how she was going to make sure her son was actively doing school work.
“That’s a very good question. I mean, I can’t hold his hand. I can’t be there every second. There’s no way. I have put it on the line both ways, ‘this is the way it’s going to be all day if you go to school; this is going to be how it is if you don’t go to school,'” Halls said.
According to KCS, students are expected to be active participants in virtual lessons and will have regular assignments that must be turned in.
Students will not be on their computer for the entire school day, but a portion of their day will be spent in online meetings using Microsoft Teams, as well as group projects using Canvas. In addition, virtual teachers will be communicating regularly with parents.
Chromebooks will include filtering software that will prevent students from accessing inappropriate or harmful content in most cases. However, KCS will not engage in regular, real-time monitoring of a student’s device to track their actions on that device.Joshua Flory, communication specialist for Knox County Schools
When class starts, KCS said students will not be on the computer all day. Teachers are planning blended course work.
Parents will need to be fairly involved in their child’s virtual education.
Halls said she will only be able to be at home with her son two days of the school week.
Nunn on the other hand, works the third shift in health care, so she’ll be at home when her child is online.
“I’ll be working all night and having to stay up with him from the 8 to the 2:30 to help him with that,” Nunn said.
KCS said it’s hard to provide an exact description of parental involvement.
Our virtual learning program handbook (elementary and secondary) spells out several expectations for parents, including maintaining a daily work schedule for students; checking Canvas and Aspen for assignments and grades; maintaining communication with teachers; and ensuring that students are submitting assignments.Joshua Flory, communication specialist for Knox County Schools
Nunn said the unfortunate part about making a decision by tonight was that once you click the button to complete registration, you’ll have to live with your choice for until winter break.
“I just wish they would’ve given us an opportunity to see like how a virtual day would fit in, instead of us having to be signed up for it and not even know how it’s going to work exactly,” Nunn said.
KCS did add a FAQ section about virtual schooling, that can be accessed here.
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