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"I'm just glad we had two weeks" | Lenoir City becomes first district to change school plans after first day

Grades 7 - 12 will move to a hybrid model with in-person and virtual instruction after hundreds of students were exposed to COVID-19.

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. — It took a week and a half of classes until Lenoir City High School had to change its reopening plans because of the coronavirus. 

Over the weekend, the director of schools said contact tracers were notified of eight cases and that hundreds of students at the school were exposed to COVID-19 and must quarantine. School leaders closed the campus Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Now, Lenoir City will move to a hybrid model with students in grades 7 - 12 trading days in-class and online based on their last name. 

"When school started we knew that at some point we would have this conversation," Director of Schools Jeannie Barker said. "I was hoping that we could get through a little bit longer, but these first two weeks of school have given us an opportunity to greet our students and show them the new technology."

The move to a hybrid learning system will help increase space in the school and allow for more social distancing. 

RELATED: Lenoir City High School extends at-home learning through Wednesday

The change came as a surprise to sophomore Dalton Dukes.

"I was shaken up by it, but I was pleased by it," he said. "Before when we just got canceled and we were only doing online I was struggling a lot to focus."

His classmate Elly Boals agreed that spending some days in class is better than all online. 

"We would all like to go back to school as normal, but I think the hybrid will work better than virtual only," she said.

Director of schools Barker said Friday's "Battle of the Bridge" football game will go on as scheduled, even as athletic officials said seven players on Lenoir City team were in quarantine. 

Barker said the school will abide by TSSAA guidelines, reduce stadium capacity, mandate masks and add an additional stand for the band to social distance.