BRISTOL, Tenn. — Bristol Tennessee City Schools will start the 2020-21 school year remotely due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in Sullivan County, according to a letter from the director of schools.
Annette Tudor said in the letter to parents that all students will participate in remote learning from the first day of school on Aug. 6 through Aug. 14.
She noted how quickly circumstances change under the pandemic and how it often throws plans out of whack. For example, she said that principals met Tuesday with teachers to get input on the plans for starting the year, but shortly afterward, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced new guidelines for schools.
“It is frustrating to me. It is frustrating to our team. And, I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to you when you are trying to make decisions for the safety and education of your child,” the letter states.
The current number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in Sullivan exceeds an average of 10 new cases per day over the past 14-day period. Under the reopening plan developed by the three school districts in Sullivan County and announced earlier this month, if the average new cases per 100,000 for the last 14 days exceed 10, schools should consider holding all classes remotely.
However, the letter states that based on the new guidance from Tennessee leaders and public health officials, schools can and should open for in-person learning as long as the school system can meet certain conditions. Tudor said that BTCS leaders are examining whether the division can meet those requirements and will update parents once that’s determined.
Rebecca Craddock, communications coordinator for the school system, said some of these conditions include maintaining 6 feet of space between students at all times, requiring masks for all students and faculty, and keeping students in cohorts and not allowing classes to mix. However, she added that school administrators are still examining them.
Prior to the first day of school, parents will receive instructions for accessing remote learning from their child’s school. On the first day of school, teachers will provide information about remote learning requirements for the week of Aug. 10-14, as well as information about back-to-school materials, technology assistance and meal options.
Last Friday, Sullivan County Schools made a similar announcement due to the high number of local cases. The county schools will hold classes remotely from Aug. 5-14.
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