Monday was the first day of Knox County Schools!
For the first time since March 12, students received instruction, whether they close in-person classes or learning from a teacher virtually at home.
Our reporters and photographers fanned out across the county – in schools and in homes – to see what was happening.
In school buildings, the routine looked familiar with new safety features: Temperature checks, masks and social distancing.
In home settings, students and their families settled into their virtual classes and learned to navigate new computer systems.
Here’s a look at the day for families throughout the district.
How the first day of classes looked
Our photographers and reporters visited schools to see what it was like.
“Our kids haven’t been with us for five months, so we’ve got to love on them and let them know this is a safe place,” said Ritta Elementary Principal Shawnda Ernst. “We’re doing everything we can to keep them safe.”
READ MORE ABOUT THE FIRST DAY of KCS HERE
The first cases of COVID-19 were announced
The district announced 13 cases: three are students and 10 are staff members. KCS did not say which schools had the 13 COVID-19 cases.
The district reported that 280 people were in self-isolation — 255 students and 25 staff members.
READ MORE ABOUT THE CASE COUNTY HERE
Why one mom chose virtual learning
“We just wanted some stability, and we felt virtual was the best way to do that,” Nita Sexton said. “I work full-time, I can’t just break away to home school but I can assist her as needed throughout the day.”
Her daughter Olivia is one of more than 18,000 Knox County students doing virtual learning for the semester. Nita said she wants her daughter to have structure during the uncertainty of a pandemic.
READ MORE ABOUT HER CHOICE HERE
The decisions that went into sending kids back to school
Krista Easely is one of thousands of parents who had to make wrenching decisions about how to handle their children’s education this fall. Her kids — Theo Lawrence, ninth grade, Jordan Lawrence, seventh grade, and Brydan Easley, second grade — join about 70% of the district’s students who are attending in person.
Parents have to think about child care, their children’s learning style and social development. But they obviously had to weigh COVID-19 concerns for their children and themselves.
READ MORE ABOUT THE DECISION HERE
Case study: Scenes from Central High School
He woke up early and excited, finally prepared to welcome students back to school for the first time since March. So Andrew Brown, the principal at Knoxville Central High School, dressed in grey slacks, a black blazer, a white dress shirt and a red and black tie to match the school’s colors.
He attached a giant button with his yearbook picture from last year onto his blazer, so students would know what he looked like under the mask Knox County Schools required teachers, administrators, students, school staff and visitors to wear on school property. Then he stood in front of Central’s main entrance at 7:45 a.m., as students wearing masks walked past him, into the start of a school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
COME ON A VISIT INSIDE THE SCHOOL
Don’t forget sports!
Even the Friday Night Lights looked different under a pandemic. But the athletes and coaches got a change to feel a little bit of normalcy.
ALL OF OUR HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS COVERAGE IS HERE