KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Governor Bill Lee announced that schools would be closed until April 24 to slow the spread of coronavirus. The decision meant students would have to stay home, away from school and out of class.
Parents and local officials were left wondering how students would continue learning. State officials announced that they would air lessons over PBS stations across the state, and local officials scrambled to help parents keep their children engaged with learning.
Knox County Schools will begin distributing learning packets for elementary and middle school students, along with the meals already being given out at schools. High school students will be able to log into online learning resources to continue their education while school is out.
Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas also discussed details and answered questions about the schools' at-home learning plan. Some of those answers are below:
How are you making sure students will be ready for the next grade level?
Once we're back in the fall, and we hope we are back, teachers will assess students. If there are gaps in learning, teachers will work with students to make sure we close those gaps and get students ready and prepared for content at the next grade level.
We are confident that our teachers and our principals will make sure that students are taken care of as they move to the next grade level once we return to school.
Is there a possibility of students having to make up days in the summer?
Trying to make up days in the summer would be a challenge. Of course, that would be a board decision. I think the action the legislature has taken would waive those days.
If we're through this crisis by that time, we know that families have vacations and students have jobs. There are work obligations and so forth. We'll have to see what happens there. It would not be my recommendation to go in the summer, but there is a good chance that we would continue to provide learning opportunities.
Our board of education has also been so supportive of everything we've done so far.
What is the plan for student learning once students work their way through their packets?
I was sort of taken aback a little bit. I think the Kindergarten through third-grade packet is 99 pages, so there's going to be a lot of materials. We understand and know that there's going to be questions that come our way once we start handing information, and we're going to address those.
Another thing we're going to do is hold a community meeting that will be live-streamed and recorded. So parents if you don't have an opportunity to watch from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, watch it at your convenience. And we're taking questions for it online, right now.
If you have a question for us, please go online and submit it. We're trying to make ourselves as available as we possibly can.