City district's teachers and students continue school year from home

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Mar 25, 2020 at 10:39 AM

Teachers and students in the Johnson City Schools district will continue the school year remotely until schools reopen their doors.

Schools were recently closed for all activities in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has left nearly 670 infected in Tennessee and seven infected in Washington County as of Tuesday.

Johnson City Schools originally announced closures through April 6 after Gov. Bill Lee recommended school closures last week until March 31. But on Tuesday, Lee recommended schools stay closed through April 24. 

Classes will be taught through online resources and learning packets as schools remain closed for all activities. Students in grades 7-12 will continue their coursework via Canvas, a web-based learning platform. Online resources for K-6 students, as well as guidance from teachers, can be found at www.jcschools.org.

Instructional packets will be available for parents to pick up on Thursday at each school, along with meals distributed from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. Online resources will be available Wednesday and updated regularly, according to officials.

Staff at Liberty Bell Middle School and Science Hill High School encouraged parents and students to pick up Chromebooks and other learning items left at school during spring break Monday to continue their courses. 

“If students don’t have access to their Chromebooks or WiFi, we’ve also put together packets for student work — the same things that will be found on the Canvas pages online,” Liberty Bell Principal Donna Morgan said Tuesday, adding that students can also pick up materials Wednesday during meal distribution. 

Liberty Bell and Science Hill students who were unable to get their Chromebooks and other items Monday can contact Morgan at [email protected] or Science Hill Principal Todd Barnett at [email protected] to work out a time to get materials. Contact information for other schools, as well as information on instructional material, can be found on each school’s website. 

Morgan said dozens of families visited her school for Chromebooks Monday.

“We’ve just been receiving a lot of phone calls from parents who are wanting to make sure they’re understanding correctly about picking up the Chromebook or getting the packet or both,” Morgan said of operations at Liberty Bell. 

Since students often use online platforms like Canvas throughout the school year, Barnett said the temporary transition still allows many students to use resources they’re already familiar with. For technical courses, students will learn what skills they can via video and other online resources. 

“They’re adapting and adjusting as well,” Barnett said. 

Casey Dent, whose son Zakhiah Dent is enrolled at Mountain View Elementary School as a second-grader, said the change in structure is just one of many changes families like hers will be navigating amid the pandemic. 

“We are probably all going crazy, and all of our families' emotions are involved at once. My husband, who is employed with a local cellphone provider, just got news he would possibly be working remotely, as well,” Dent wrote in an email to the Press. “Due to the library closed and now local businesses closed, we only have the internet as a study module for my son. My son was already having a hard time focusing in school.

“This will be a challenge when school does start back up. I am a little worried about what his school year will be like,” she continued. “It's definitely nerve-racking. It will be my job to catch him up on all of the work he's missing now.”

In addition to changes concerning remote learning, the school district now has about 20 feeding sites for meal distribution. There will be three additional food service vans and two activity buses that will deliver meals to locations across Johnson City. This free service will be available for all children ages 2-18, even if they are not enrolled in Johnson City Schools.

“This is new for all of us, but we’re going to do right by students and do everything we can to keep them engaged and on track,” Barnett said. “It’s probably easier said than done, but I’d say not to stress now because we’re all focused on going the same direction and doing what’s best for our students.”

For further updates from Johnson City Schools, visit www.jcschools.org

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