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Knox County task force lays out ideal safety plan for students

Students will be heading back to school next month, but the system is still working to answer dire questions on how children and staff will be kept safe from COVID-19.
Knox County Schools are working with the community, parents and students to map out a safe and realistic plan for school safety.
Knox County Schools are working with the community, parents and students to map out a safe and realistic plan for school safety.(WVLT)
Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 12:50 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Students will be heading back to school next month, but the system is still working to answer dire questions on how children and staff will be kept safe from COVID-19.

Knox County School is pushing for a safe plan to phase students back after coronavirus abruptly ended the school year. They asked parents if they were comfortable sending their students back during this pandemic.

Half of them said yes, including parents like Ibrahim Guye.

“At the same time, we worry about the safety, too,” Guye said.

Though, he still has questions like how could social distancing be enforced on a bus and will he be able to juggle at-home learning on some days for two sons if that becomes an option.

“Some of us, we’re working. So, that means someone has to be home to supervise the kids,” Guye said.

Sam Brown is one of nine community task force members adding an extra safety net to the district’s ultimate plan. He said his community has expressed concerns surrounding internet access now that every student will receive their own computer this year.

“The safety and the health of your children and the students of KCS is absolutely paramount in every conversation at every task force,” Brown, District 1 Task Force member, said.

There’s a survey up that would address his worry, so he asks parents to take it before its July 7th deadline.

“I would like to see a plan that focuses on prioritizing and making sure that every family and every student is able to get the internet access. Then, also make sure that we take a serious look at nutrition,” Brown said.

He also said the task force all agrees temperatures should be taken at school and hybrid style learning could work for students.

" I think that provides an opportunity for there to be less crowding in the school. So, you can practice social distancing a little easier if you have students with the option to do school at home.”

One of the biggest hurdles he said is bus safety, which has come up in recent meetings but needs further assessment.

“Our students of Knox County can still be educated and no disparities will be created, because I know in a time of crises, that’s also a time where more disparities could be made,” Brown said.

Brown said crafting such a plan that will address everyone’s needs will take a lot of hard work, but it’s work he and many others are putting in to create a safe environment.

Parents can expect an initial plan by next week.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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