Hamblen Task Force discusses outreach to Hispanic community

Dr. Jeff Perry, Hamblen County school superintendent, told the Hamblen County school board Tuesday night that there were no major problems as school reopened for the first time since March.

“Overall, I’m very happy with opening day,” he said.

The school system had more than 9,200 students in attendance with more than 2,800 students online, he said.

He said he believes the number of students in attendance will probably climb as many students continue to register and get back into classrooms.

The comments came during the regularly scheduled monthly business meeting of the school board.

Perry said he visited several schools during the course of the day Tuesday and saw almost all students wearing masks and social distancing in hallways.

There were some hiccups, though, he said.

West High School, which is currently undergoing renovations, had some problems.

“Lunch at West was a real ordeal,” Perry said. “The main reason was we didn’t get an accurate count.”

He said the lunch count came in at 200 to 250 and instead the real lunch count was around 800 lunches.

Currently, the cafeteria is closed due to construction at West High School and lunches are being prepared at East High School and shuttled to West High School. He said there were some issues where instructors had not given the accurate count and he said that situation will be rectified.

Perry said at one point even school administrators got involved in packing lunches to get to West High School on time.

“Every kid got fed,” he said.

He said, overall, lunchtimes across the county were good.

Perry said he also heard of long lines getting into schools, but he thought that was par for the course for the first day. He said one thing that will be addressed is having more temperature takers at school drop-offs as children arrive. He said the school system has enough thermometers, but maybe did not utilize them as much as they should have.

He also said the technology side was good with no major problems. The problems that did occur were “user error” and not directly related to the servers or hardware of the school system.

Perry said it is still just one of 175 school days.

“Overall, it was better than I expected,” he said. “We’ve still got a long way to go.”

Perry said renovations at West High School have been toned down. He said there are a couple of classrooms that contractors are currently installing HVAC systems in still, but should be completed shortly.

He said concrete has been poured for the floor of the expanded cafeteria and is currently drying. He said school officials wanted to make sure the concrete is set before heavy equipment is set on top of it.

The cafeteria should be fully functional by the end of October, he said.

Perry also announced Tuesday night that following Center for Disease and Control Prevention guidelines that East High School’s cheerleading program has been shut down for a month after one cheerleader tested positive for COVID-19.