Johnson City Schools will start its 2020-21 school year with a full remote schedule for all students on Aug. 10, according to a Tuesday news release from the district.
Remote schooling will continue for the first three weeks of the school year, with in-person learners planned to report on Aug. 31. Officials will re-evaluate the situation before then to determine the best path forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district previously prepared full-time remote learning options for families who preferred their children not return to in-person learning on Aug. 10.
“There is no perfect solution for how to provide in-person instruction while also providing a 100% guarantee of safety for all students and staff members given the current community COVID-19 cases,” Superintendent Steve Barnett said.
“We are choosing to start remotely as a precautionary measure. Our priority remains to open schools for in-person learning when it is safe. All schools are in the process of organizing instructional materials and devices for deployment to students.”
Barnett said the district will offer robust remote learning experiences with students being responsible for classwork and assignments.
Teachers will engage with students daily through live meetings and other digital platforms and will take attendance and assign grades for student work.
The district joined other local districts in going remote. Last week, Sullivan County Schools and University School announced they would open for online learning only.
Washington County Schools leaders also announced Monday that the district would be on a virtual schedule beginning Aug. 3.
In a recent reopening plan, the Johnson City district said schools could close if the Tennessee Department of Health records an average of 11 or more new cases per 100,000 Washington County residents within two weeks. As of Monday, there were over 26 average new cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.
Following Johnson City Schools’ Tuesday announcement, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee released the state’s recommendations for if or when schools go back to in-person learning.
Recommendations included a 10-day sick window for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, a 14-day quarantine for anyone in contact with COVID-19 and contact tracing to quickly isolate people who are sick and quarantine their close contacts. Schools may assist with notifying families of the need to quarantine through text messaging.
“Our state is doing everything we can to work with local school districts and ensure that in-person learning is made available in a way that protects the health and safety of our students and educators, and this plan helps us accomplish that goal,” the governor said.
For more information and updates, visit the district’s website at www.jcschools.org.