KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Knox County Schools start the new academic year on Monday. Ahead of the big day, parents are preparing their kids in a nontraditional way
In two cell phone videos, 9-year-old Luke Phillips and 7-year-old Tillery Phillips showed off their new virtual learning desks in their rooms.
"This is my desk, this is my laptop," Tillery pointed.
"This is where I put my pencils and pens in here," Luke explained.
For the new fourth and second graders, it's a different setup to an uncertain year. Instead of a traditional school desk in a classroom, they will be at home learning virtually, with their mom Alana Phillips close by.
"I feel like we're as ready as we can be," Alana nodded.
In a normal year, Alana would be laying out first day outfits and packing lunches. This year, the prep looks much different, including meeting both teachers through a video.
"We went through and made sure we knew how to log into Canvas and got that set up and figured out where we go on the first day of school because it's not as easy as just walking into a classroom and following directional," Alana admitted. "We had to figure out how to log in."
For them, making the virtual decision was an easy one for multiple reasons.
After moving during the summer, staying consistent was a big one. They knew the school year would be different no matter what. The pair previously went to Norwood Elementary. Now, they are zoned for Corryton Elementary.
Health was another big reason for staying home. Tillery is a cancer survivor.
"But we did learn her tumor has grown," Alana said. "She's going back on treatment, so our world is about to be really crazy. Because she's a virtual learner we'll be able to work her schedule around live class times."
The decision doesn't come without worries.
"Just that there's going to be a hard time with learning because we are gonna be so focused on the technology side of things and the newness and the difference, and you know how much is that going to impact what we actually learn," Alana questioned.
They know how hard their teachers are working and are ready to work out the kinks in the first week.
"I imagine I'll run and back forth down the hall all week this week as we get started with this," Alana laughed.
Both Luke and Tillery agreed they are most looking forward to seeing friends and teachers' faces virtually this year, but can't wait until they are able to hug and play on the playground again.
KCS said more than 18,000 students will be learning virtually this fall. That's about 30% of all the children in the district.