KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas was set to present the district’s reopening plan to the board of education Wednesday night after weeks of development amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The board approved the plan Wednesday night, with 9 “Yes” votes.
The board adopted the reopening plan with flexibility for the superintendent to make same kinds of changes within duties normally afforded to the superintendent in state law. 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.
The meeting began at 5 p.m.
Within an hour prior to the meeting, KCS released its fall reopening plan on its KCS Connect website and via its social media and in an email to KCS families.
The board of education is expected to make the final decision on how and when Knox County Schools will reopen.
In the weeks leading up to Thomas’ presentation, the school district had created a community task force for the reopening plan development, organized focus groups and online community surveys; as well as communication on its “KCS Connect” website and in emails to KCS families.
Last week at the community task force’s presentation to the board of education, Thomas spoke on the reopening plan in a message to parents: “I’d like to ask for grace. It may not look perfect on day one but be assured that we’re going to work as hard as we can to make it perfect.”
A few weeks ago, in an email sent to KCS families, Superintendent Bob Thomas said their goal is to return to in-person classes if it can be done while protecting health and safety of students and staff; however, he acknowledged that some families wouldn’t be comfortable with in-person attendance and so the district plans to have a virtual option for those students.
The district has informed KCS families of its plan to issue Chromebooks, free of charge, to all students by August thanks to federal funds from the CARES Act that allowed the board of education to approve its 1:1 plan.
The final decision will be left to the board of education.
The Tennessee Department of Education has also released a series of reopening “toolkits” for school districts around the state; with school districts expected to turn in their final reopening plans to the state later in this month.