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Tennessee schools won't offer hybrid virtual and in-person learning starting this fall

Knox County plans to offer virtual learning, but it will be its own, separate campus. It could mean less workload on classroom teachers.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Education decided hybrid learning is going away in Tennessee.

The state says starting this fall, Tennessee schools can't offer both in-person and virtual instruction. 

Spanish Version: Escuelas de Tennessee no ofrecerán aprendizaje híbrido virtual ni presencial a partir de este otoño

Knox County plans to offer virtual learning, but it will be its own, separate campus. Teachers in some districts hope the separation means less workload and stress over teaching two different ways.

"Just worn out, mentally fried," is the feeling of teachers across the state who have done double duty for the past year.

"It's very difficult to have that two different sets of mindsets for one goal, and that is to educate students," Knox County Education Association President Tanya Coats said. "It's really as if you were doing two jobs at the same time."

School districts chose different options for hybrid learning to begin with. Some taught in-person and through a screen all at the same time.

While others, just focused on kids through the camera and were in charge of virtual classes only.

But, the hybrid model is going away, where it combines both in-person and virtual instruction, is going away, according to a two-week old state decision.

"This is our understanding as educators, that it will not be at the school level anymore," Coats explained.

Starting in the fall, in Knox County, according to the district's website, if a student wants to be all online, they will have to apply to transfer to the virtual campus.

"QuEst is going to be the virtual school, they're going to use some platforms of QuEst, because that's what we had in Knox County Schools, we use that resource, but we're actually going to have bodies that are going to be in these virtual schools," Coats said.

Coats explained there will be teachers dedicated to virtual instruction only at certain campuses.

That decision to go all virtual also means kids won't be attached to a physical school and can't do extra curriculars.

"When August comes around, then we're going to have that same momentum and making sure that every student is safe in their learning to the best capacity that they can possibly have," Coats explained.

Coats said the district hopes to open 1,500 virtual spots for elementary, middle and high school grade levels. That's 4,500 in all.

The transfer window for these virtual schools will be from May 3 through May 14. Students in grades 1-12 can apply, Kindergarteners cannot.

KCS says the virtual option is dependent on getting approval from the Tennessee Department of Education.