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Episcopal School of Knoxville plans a safe reopening August 17

Using a courtyard as a temporary outdoor classroom is just one of the creative ideas the Episcopal School of Knoxville has for the upcoming school year

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — David Spates teaches 5th grade math and science at the Episcopal School of Knoxville.

He said, "The state of my room is utter chaos at the moment. Nothing is where it needs to be."

He says that's normal for him about a month before school starts at ESK. 

That's about the only normal thing right now. 

"What is going to be new is all the things that I'm going to have to be aware of in terms of the pandemic. And what I have to do social distance wise, what I'm going to have to do online teaching wise, hybrid teaching wise. All of those things are going to be brand new," he said. 

Credit: WBIR
David Spates prepares for a school year where he will teach students in person and remotely

His classroom will have a new set up, kids will keep their hands clean, and everyone will wear a mask. 

"Having a mask on, then social distancing is going to be a challenge for everybody in the sense that we haven't been together to do this," he said. 

The plan for instruction specifies four phases based on the coronavirus spread.

This is a link to the complete plan. 

With about 300 students on a 96 acre campus, there's plenty of room at ESK  to spread out.

Credit: The Episcopal School of Knoxville
The Episcopal School of Knoxville

For example, a courtyard could be a temporary outdoor classroom. 

Some classes are moving to bigger indoor spaces. Chorus will meet in the chapel.

"We will be in a larger space so that they can spread out as they sing," Ashton Gallagher said.

The Middle School Choir Director will adapt her curriculum. 

"We're a very performance based class we usually have about 10 performances in the school year and this year on top of not having those performances, I really don't plan to start the year singing. Well, it'll be a great opportunity to focus on other music fundamentals and get outside and explore the acoustics of the difference of being outside versus in the chapel," she said. 

Credit: WBIR
Ashton Gallagher's chorus classes will be held in the ESK chapel

She realizes it's harder to sing in a mask.

"Yes, because singing requires a greater intake of air. It is a bit of a challenge, and also articulating the consonants and things like that. So it'll be a learning curve for sure," she said. 

Teachers at the Episcopal School of Knoxville are looking forward to getting back to school even though it won't mean getting back to normal. 

She said, "The community of having the kids and their energy on campus, and learning to find a bond and emotional connection with them." 

David Spates said,  "I'm looking forward to seeing the kids." 

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