Oak Ridge parents and students enjoy last weekend of summer vacation, share thoughts on going back to school

Local News

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — For many Oak Ridge students, this is the last weekend of summer vacation. Oak Ridge High School senior Elijah Hoffmann is spending his last few days practicing the trombone, and mentally preparing for a senior year he wasn’t expecting.

“It’s gonna be different. I’ve had to adjust to a lot of things so far.” Hoffmann said.

Classes start Thursday for Elijah. The trombonist says he’s most excited to get back to band. His parents say they’re a little nervous, but ultimately on board with sending him back.

“His goal in life is to do music education and performance and that’s just something he just can’t study with the online that’s being offered. I’m a little nervous, I also feel like the school is taking this seriously. They have to wear masks which we fully support, our son is prepared with hand sanitizer and understands that the health is very important.” said Elijah’s mother, Heidi Hoffmann

Oak Ridge High school has implemented a mask requirement, but Elijah says he doesn’t mind wearing a mask everyday.

“I would rather wear the mask, sure it’s a little difficult to breathe, it fogs up my glasses, but I’d rather have to go through that than other people get sick.” Hoffmann said.

Other Oak Ridge parents like Amanda Scott are not too thrilled about the current plan in place. She says her children have more academic success when they are in a full-time classroom environment. Oak Ridge’s current reopening plan does not allow for that.

“They do not do good learning remotely. Oak Ridge initially gave us an option to do remote learning or in person learning, which is what I chose. Then last minute they told us that everyone who chose in-person learning will only be actually attending 2 in person days a week and 3 remote days. It’s going to be a struggle for sure.” Scott said.

Amanda has two children, one in the 9th grade and one in the 6th grade. Oak Ridge students will only have two days of in person instruction and three days of virtual learning. Because Amanda’s kids have different schedules at different schools, at least one of them will be doing virtual learning every day of the week. She says as a single parent, it’s going to be extremely difficult to work full time and make sure they are getting work done.

“There are so many unanswered questions. Like will they be watching the teachers on remote days or expected to just read and figure it out on their own. I feel like the district rushed into this and didn’t think this decision through fully. I feel that they could have pushed back the start date rather than using our kids as an experiment to see how it goes. My kids are very excited to go back to school and are not thrilled about this remote learning portion.” Scott said.

Oak Ridge schools will be starting the year off with a staggered schedule, starting with the elementary and high school students on Wednesday, July 29. The full reopening plan can be found on the Oak Ridge Schools website.

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