Covid-19 Update #2
Parents & students,
I hope the end of this week finds everyone doing well. I know you may be getting a little stir-crazy with the quarantine, but hopefully a slower pace and time with family has been very positive. I know just a little bit more this week and would like to share. Because there is so much, I will send the first half now and the second half tomorrow evening. All of the information can be found on our school web-site, my Facebook page and emails through School Messenger.
The district office is close to a solid game plan for providing instructional resources. Based on equal access concerns, Knox County Schools cannot offer any new instruction and must be only a review of material already covered. For these reasons, all online resources that will be provided at some point, will be voluntary and no scores will be taken. For high schools, there will be online review lessons in the areas of math, science, English and social studies, provided by district supervisors, coaches and select teachers. There is no game plan for providing performance based reviews in the areas of CTE, music, art, PE, etc. It is possible that review lessons can/will be expanded into other content areas as they get this figured out. They are in the early stages of planning for this, but the concept has been embraced by the school board. EPSO classes – AP is ran by the College Board and has online lessons provided to them. Our AP teachers are aware of the new guidelines and revisions for the test and will be communicating this to the AP students soon. The same with Dual Enrollment kids. My understanding is that we will try to get more support for kids who are working toward Industry Certification, and will have more guidance on that next week. They have asked principals for input and I am drafting my opinion this weekend to be submitted to them by Monday morning. I can tell you that I am advocating they give us a template for online review lessons and let our teachers create for their own kids. While I appreciate their willingness to help, I really want our kids reviewing and engaging in deeper discussions with their own teachers. I believe we can assess how many of our kids don’t have access to technology or online capabilities and work to solve our own equity issues, so we can finish the year strong with our kids in some way and have some sort of closure. I will give you more guidance on this next week, but for now, expect our teachers to reach out to our students in some way this week to say hey and make sure they are doing okay.
No word from the district yet on student grades and how we will manage this at this point. More discussions will take place next week.
The State Department of Education will be holding meetings on April 9th to discuss any revisions to graduation requirements. The state requires 22 and Knox County requires 28. There will be discussions about any modifications to those expectations for the Class of 2020. Those on-track to graduate are not likely to be penalized because of grades and courses at this point, but we will wait on their guidance.
Plans are being developed to continue Edunuity in some way for students who are NOT on track to graduate. We are waiting for guidance from the district next week.
Obviously, this is day-to-day. I don’t anticipate the university allowing schools to use Thompson Boling Arena, as they have already cancelled their graduation exercises. If the window exists to have one, we have discussed using our football stadium as a possibility, but that is way down the line. Again, we will celebrate our seniors in some way if commencement is just not possible.
The distribution of meals has been going great and I am thankful for our volunteers who have helped out. In three days, we have served 1880 meals to students in South Knoxville. We will continue to do this on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10-12 thru April 24th. I encourage any parent with school-aged kids to come by for food.
Urgent Medicine Pickup
I know several students who may have medicine at school that could be needed at home. If this is the case, I will have the school nurse at school on Young Campus, Monday from 10-12, for a quick, one-time pick up.
It is not a rumor and it is true that we have a new prom date of May the 8th. However, there are NO guarantees we are having the prom. Many schools have cancelled their proms already. We simply requested some open dates prior to our scheduled commencement on the 12th, with the outside chance that we will be back in school and can salvage some memories for our kids. The chances are still remote, but I still want to continue to plan and offer hope!
No word has been released from TSSAA and the seasons have NOT been cancelled. Don’t want to build false hopes, but there is a chance that spring sports could see an end-of-season tournament, depending on the pandemic and release to participate again. Kids can still continue to condition and develop their skills, but encourage them to follow guidelines for social distancing and staying home. Again, no students or coaches are allowed on campus, in classrooms or on athletic facilities until the super lifts the order.
Release of Information
Again, I know everyone is going through a myriad of emotions during a time of uncertainty. I look at the Coronavirus data daily, analyze the trends and listen carefully to the President, Governor, mayors, CDC, WHO and our local health department, trying to keep a firm understanding of where we are in the curve and how much longer this could last. Currently, the numbers are still increasing sharply and we are still several days away from reaching any kind of apex. It doesn’t appear we are flattening the curve and there are still a lot of people out there in our state and county who are not following guidelines and orders. Please keep your kids at home as much as possible and follow social distancing guidelines. While we are slated to return on April 24th, no one really knows how this is going to play out or really what activities our kids will actually engage in before the year ends. I will give you weekly updates on everything that is discussed and plans moving forward. As always, if it is not released by Knox County Schools, the superintendent or your principal, exercise with caution in treating information as fact.
I will be meeting online with my administrators and leadership team next week, when new policies, procedures and expectations roll out. We will be assessing the needs in each home when it comes to technology and online capabilities, so we can determine how to best serve our students during this difficult time. Again, I ask that everyone be patient and allow our leaders and us to develop plans to support our students, while keeping everyone safe and healthy. My prayers will continue for our country and especially for the South-Knoxville families that we love.
Grace and peace be with you in the days ahead!