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Knox County Schools reopening task force meets for second time Monday

The task force has nine members including parents, business owners, a pastor, a UT professor of education and others.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox County Schools closed classrooms and moved classes online towards the end of the last school year, due to the coronavirus. Now, the district is making plans for the next school year.

Administrators created the task force to help decide how to approach the 2020-2021 school year. Members of the task force were recommended by the school board, and the group will meet for the first time on Wednesday at 5 p.m. to discuss data the district collected from online surveys and other sources.

They will discuss the data during the first of two scheduled meetings. Then, they will give the board feedback on its reopening plans on July 8. 

"Our hope is to return to an in-person school setting in the fall," Superintendant Bob Thomas said in a release.

There are nine members of the task force — 4 parents, 2 business owners, a pastor, a University of Tennessee professor of education and a school administrator. It is led by Dr. Jerry Askew, the president of the Alliance for Better Nonprofits.

There are no Knox County teachers on the reopening task force. A full list of members is below.

  • District 1: Rev. Sam Brown, Pastor at Logan Temple
  • District 2: Joan Grim, University of Tennessee Theory & Practice in Teacher Education
  • District 3: Melanie Craig, PTSO Board Member
  • District 4: Jonathon Fortner, President of Sequoyah Elementary Foundation
  • District 5: Susie Carr, KCS Parent and PTSO Board Member
  • District 6: Michelle Pickler, Community and School Volunteer
  • District 7: Rob Cummings, KCS Parent and School Administrator
  • District 8: Steve Hunley, Publisher and Local Business Owner
  • District 9: Brannan Gillenwater, KCS Parent and Local Business Owner.

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"I would love it if we were a part of the planning of it as well because we will understand how all of this will be implemented," Christy Bruchey said, a first-grade teacher.

Officials with Knox County Schools said they will have focus groups with teachers involved, and that there will be online surveys. 

The task force will meet for a second time on June 29, before giving feedback on the plans on July 8. Thomas said he will use information from the task force to make a recommendation to the Board of Education on July 15.

The task force's meetings will be held in the Sarah Simpson Professional Development Center in Knoxville and are open to the public.

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RELATED: Knox County Schools creates task force to help guide reopening process