KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two weeks after class resumed in Hamblen County, half of the 7th grade at West View Middle School is quarantining. COVID-19 cases are climbing, and virtual learning has made a comeback. It’s different than last year.

This year learning from home is optional, temporary, and more targeted. Hamblen County Schools Superintendent Jeff Perry said Wednesday this approach is meant to slow the spread of the virus and keep as many students in the classroom as possible. He noted some of their schools have no cases, while some have a lot. Among those with a lot of cases, they’re often isolated to one grade level or classroom.

With state restrictions on how many learning days can be virtual, and the recent executive order on mask wearing being optional, Perry feels this is really the best, and only, option the district has for keeping kids learning and safe.

“There’s not going to be any set number. There’s not going to be any set percentages because each school will be different. But, when we reach the point the principal of that school feels like they can no longer effectively have school and keep students safe in that kind of environment, then we will go to a temporary optional virtual program,” he said.

Beginning Friday, the district is strongly encouraging 7th graders at West View to take part in the virtual learning. In that time, symptom-free students, who were not part of an existing quarantine, will still be able to attend class in-come to class in person.

“This is not long term. This is not a situation where we’re going six months or a semester. This will just be a situation in which, in those seven days, if anyone was infected at school, they will begin to present systems. Then those students would of course stay home through the duration of their quarantine,” Perry added.