Addressing rumors that schools are gearing up to switch to all virtual, Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas said the goal is to keep students in classrooms for as long as possible.
Thomas said it is possible that specific classes, grade levels in a school or an individual school could go virtual because of COVID-19 cases. He said he is asking all families to have a plan if a student must learn virtually.
“I want to make it clear — very clear — that our goal is to continue in-person instruction for as many students as possible, for as long as possible,” Thomas said. “I know that virtual learning would be very difficult for many families and that’s why we’re working so hard on mask-wearing, hand washing and physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The district’s reopening plan allows individual schools to go virtual while other parts of the district stay open. If a class goes virtual, students would learn using their district-issued Chromebooks.
Need for substitute teachers
When in-person teachers must quarantine, schools need a substitute teacher to provide supervision for classroom students. Thomas talked about two ways the district is trying to improve its substitute availability.
If a substitute works 10 to 14 days a month, he or she should would receive an additional $300. If the person worked 15 days or more a month, he or she would receive an additional $500.
The district is also looking to hire 20-25 full-time, district-wide substitute teachers.
“Our hope is that these steps will increase the pool of substitute teachers that we can draw from and enable us to continue operating in the yellow attendance mode,” Thomas said.
Organization of the school board
Third District board member Daniel Watson attended the meeting. Watson replaced former board member Tony Norman.
Former 6th District board member Terry Hill resigned her board seat, effective Aug. 31. She is now a county commissioner and represents the 6th District.
Voters will choose someone to fill the vacated seat in the November election.
Board member Susan Horn will remain the board chair and board member Virginia Babb will remain the vice chair.