Hawkins Co. Schools announce back to school plan

Hawkins County Schools announced their reopening plan on Wednesday, which is marked by three phases that directly correlate to the amount of community spread of COVID-19

These three phases outline whether schools will remain open and the way in which teachers will deliver instruction to their students.

“We are not assuming we will begin the school year on August 4 with regular classroom instruction,” the plan reads. “We are identifying the phases we will work within if the data dictates a change in instructional delivery.”

Director of Schools Matt Hixson presented the plan to the Board of Education in a lengthy special-called meeting on Wednesday morning. Stay tuned to the Review for further coverage of this meeting.

The plan can be read in its entirety at https://www.hck12.net/.

Three operating phases

School system leaders outlined the following three possibilities for school opening in the fall. The plan also noted that these scenarios correlate with community spread and will take public health recommendations into consideration.

Green Level: Schools remain open, operating as normal with general safety precautions in place. Hawkins County Schools will enlist parents and community in assisting with ensuring student safety and health.

Hawkins County is currently in the green phase based on the number of local COVID-19 cases.

At this time, the county’s COVID-19 numbers are below the threshold of 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.

Should the county’s numbers rise above this threshold, the school system might proceed into the yellow phase. However, Hixson noted that school administration takes multiple other factors into account before making this decision.

He and other administrators go over this data with the regional health office on a weekly basis.

Yellow Level: Schools are eventually forced to alter educational models. Hawkins County Schools would employ a remote/in-person hybrid learning scenario. Under the yellow phase, the model would consist of bringing half of our students into our classrooms Mondays and Tuesdays, working with all students remotely on Wednesdays while administrators deep clean all facilities, and bringing the remaining half of the student population to classrooms on Thursdays and Fridays.

Red Level: Schools close to students on campus, and there are subsequent school/community-based closures. In the event of school closures, Hawkins County Schools would employ their remote learning plan, consisting of all teachers teaching students remotely in live sessions where possible.

The plan also goes into great detail on protocols for screening students as well as how each phase will affect school dining, extracurricular activities, and athletics.

The plan also further states that the goal is to “put student and staff safety first.”

Virtual education options

Hixson also noted that due to a recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the school system will be offering two virtual learning opportunities for any interested Hawkins County student.

“We are operating our Hawkins County Virtual Academy for the second year and have increased available spots from 40 to 150 students this year,” Hixson said. “We will also be offering an additional online program, new this year, to assist with those who may not feel safe attending school in-person. Once enrolled in either online program, students will be required to commit to a parent/student class aimed at virtual learning success and commit to a full semester in the online setting.”

If students and/or parents are interested in either online program, they can access the following link and fill out the required information by August 1: https://forms.gle/WwnKiYG8FwhCbu3eA.