Parents, educators split on in-person learning ahead of Knox County’s return to class

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County students will head back to school Tuesday morning.

The spring semester is starting for both in-person and virtual learners.

However, not everyone supports a return to the classroom. On Monday, the Knox County Education Association called for all students to start the year off virtually.

Some KCS parents also want to hold off, while others said they are ready to see their children go back to school.

“I’m excited for them to be able to get back into a normal routine,” parent Kelli Jobe said.

For Jobe’s family, in-person learning is what works best – especially, she says, after seeing the impact a temporary switch to virtual made on her youngest son.

“After the last three weeks of being virtual this past semester, his grade fell from an A to an F,” Jobe said.

“I’m just really leery right now with them starting back,” another parent, Lisa Jones, said.

Jones said she would prefer to see the school system wait a little bit longer before heading back to the classroom from the holiday break.

“The ideal situation would be two weeks,” Jones said. “I know you can be exposed anywhere at any time, I understand that, but you’re more likely to have gotten that exposure during a vacation break type of time, when you have more time on your hands.”

That is a worry shared by the president of the Knox County Education Association (KCEA), with the organization recommending virtual learning to start the new year.

“We should be remotely from our homes,” KCEA president Tanya Coats said. “We have had spikes after Halloween. We have had spikes after Thanksgiving. And could you imagine what the worst is yet to come with the 2 week break that we just took with our students.”

Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas had a response to the concern.

“I feel like our classrooms have proven to be pretty safe from the standpoint of the measures that we’ve put into place,” Thomas said. “We’re about educating students, it’s about our students, and I just feel very strongly that we need to provide that opportunity because of the commitment we made.”

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