Last year, leaders at Emerald Academy were brainstorming ways to better serve their students. They started talking to Cherokee Health Systems about expanding health services for students.
Then, the pandemic happened.
Flash forward to the first day of school: Emerald Academy students have a new health clinic thanks to a partnership with Cherokee Health Systems. Any student or staff member can use it.
Emerald Charter Schools president Steve Diggs said the clinic provides new opportunities.
“Knowing the services that Cherokee Health has available through a school nurse, telehealth, other services they can provide our scholars and staff, it just made the most sense to partner with them here at Emerald Academy.”
The clinic also has on-site diagnostic and prescription services and referrals to Cherokee’s network.
Emerald Academy is a free school for 460 students with a college prep track. While the charter school is partnered with Knox County Schools, students have longer school days and a longer academic year to increase achievement. All students qualify for free or reduced price lunch.
Just like other schools, things are different this year because of the pandemic, and safety is top of mind. Students must wear a mask, pass a temperature check and they will spend most of their day in one classroom. Diggs said small class sizes make distancing more attainable.
The school partnered with Knoxville-based Ionogen to provide humidifiers that sanitize the air. There is one device in each of the 22 classrooms.
“I hope that they can come in today and just know this is a learning center that is set up to be the safest and most caring possible; so that they can succeed academically and in life,” Diggs said.
Emerald Academy used Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, additional staffing for virtual learning, general supplies and virtual instruction curriculum and materials, Emerald Charter Schools spokesman John Crooks said in an email.