Reopening Schools: KCS school board passes reopening plan that includes virtual option, start date Aug. 17

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Less than an hour prior to the scheduled presentation of the reopening plan at the Knox County Schools Board of Education meeting Wednesday night, KCS released its fall reopening plan that includes enrollment options for virtual learning.

The full plan was released both via its social media pages and in an email to KCS families. The new first day of school was also announced: Monday, Aug. 17.

The board approved the plan Wednesday night.

The board adopted the reopening plan with flexibility for the superintendent to make the same kinds of changes within the duties normally afforded to the superintendent in state law. However, changes determined to be major in nature by the law director, school board or superintendent should be addressed in a meeting with 48-72 hours notice.

“We tried to listen to everybody and tried to incorporate as much of what we heard into this plan and to give parents choices,” KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas said.

Thomas announced the plan to reopen school buildings in August while offering a “Virtual Learning Program” for students who are uncomfortable returning to school. Of note is that KCS emphasized that students who elect to enroll in the virtual learning program will be committed to that option for the entire semester.

The enrollment period for the Virtual Learning Program was opened at noon on July 15 and will close at 11:59 p.m. on July 22.

Currently, enrolled students will be sent an email detailing how to enroll online via the Aspen Family Portal.

For any student not registered in a Knox County school or who does not have internet access, KCS families are told they should visit the student’s zoned school. 

The plan outlines that those who enroll in the virtual learning program will continue as planned regardless of COVID-19 conditions. Other students will follow a traffic light model.

“It does allow us to do that by school. For example, if there was a cluster at a particular school or number of schools that we had to go red, that means that you would be online,” Thomas said.

The superintendent said even though this was the plan brought forward and agreed on Wednesday, that does not mean it cannot change.

“Things maybe we haven’t thought about that will be brought to us, we’ll take that under consideration, and as much as we can do to make it more palatable for everyone, and to keep it safe and make it safer, then we’re going to do those things,” he said.

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