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East Tenn. schools release virtual learning update for 2021-2022 school year

Virtual learning enrollment postponed for Knox County Schools.
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 5:39 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:59 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -The Knox County Board of Education announced Wednesday, Knox Co. Schools will be postponing virtual learning enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year.

Knox County Superintendent Bob Thomas said in a meeting Wednesday, the decision comes after the state announced it is working on two major developments to virtual instruction for the 2021-2022 school year.

The State Board of Education will be holding a special meeting on April 12 to discuss a rule affecting school districts to offer daily virtual instruction in the school year.

Superintendent Thomas says if the rule is approved by the state, virtual students in East Tennessee will have the option to unenroll in a base school and enroll in a virtual school approved by the state.

If approved, Knox County will only have three virtual schools- instead of virtual learning at every school. There would be three virtual schools, one for Elementary, one for Middle and one for High School. Enrollment would be capped at 1,500 students for each school.

The following school systems across East Tennessee have released a statement regarding plans for the school year:

Campbell County Schools:

At this time, there are no plans in place for the upcoming school year. We are in the planning process only and nothing has been confirmed.

Alcoa City Schools:

We are still waiting to see if a virtual option will be mandated by the state. Obviously, if it’s a mandate we will offer it as an option. If it’s not, we will offer in-person options only.

Currently, staff masks are required and student masks are encouraged. We will continue to monitor our TDH guidelines to make that decision as it gets closer.

Lenoir City Schools:

We are very busy planning for this summer and next Fall. We will have a plan that will be responsive to any of the guidance that will come down from our local health department. We have learned a lot this year about how to engage students in learning no matter if the student is sitting in a classroom or in another location. We will provide both options based on what is best for each student.

Blount County Schools:

Our district team will be offering a virtual learning option at the Samuel Everett School of Innovation.

Clinton City Schools

As of now, we are hopeful to return to conducting school as normal as possible next year. We are not planning to offer a virtual program. As always, teachers and students are more than welcome to wear masks, but we do not plan to require masks as part of our school operational plan. We will respect individual preferences.

Hamblen County Schools

Hamblen County Schools is still figuring out the best course of action for next year. As of now, we are not considering a virtual school option on the district-wide scale. At our Tuesday board meeting we will probably touch base on virtual learning and masks. We plan to re-evaluate more later. In summer school masks may be an optional piece.

Jefferson County

The board has not taken any official action on distance learning for next year, but most likely this will not be an option. We will be developing a comprehensive plan by late May for next year and it will include info about DL, masks, etc. I [Shane Johnston] will probably share an update at the May board meeting and then spend most of May putting the plan together for the board to possibly review in early June.

Maryville City Schools

At this time, we are planning to be fully in-person in the 2021-2022 school year. Any procedural changes will be considered over the summer. As you can imagine, we are working hard to end this school year on a strong note.

Sevier County Schools:

While we plan for the vast majority of remote learners to return to school buildings in the fall, we are currently discussing specific options for what remote learning may look like on a limited basis during the 2021-22 academic year, but no firm plans have yet been made as we continue to collect information from state educational and medical authorities. Mask requirements will likewise depend on the progress of vaccinations and the advice of national and state medical authorities.

Union County Schools

At this point, we do not plan to open with a virtual option for our students. We are in a wait and see situation wearing masks. At this moment in time I would say we will have masks next year just like this year but I expect this may change.

The postponement does not affect summer learning programs.

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