Hawkins to open schools on Aug. 4

Director of Schools Matt Hixson announced Saturday that schools in Hawkins County will be delayed until Aug. 17 due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The change in plans will become official when the Hawkins County Board of Education takes up the matter in a special called meeting at 10 a.m. Monday at the Special Education Building Conference Room in Rogersville.

A previously scheduled virtual “Introduction to the School Year” will be held starting Monday and running through Friday. According to Hixson, teachers will interact with students and parents to establish schedules, set criteria for learning, meet with students to ensure understanding of virtual set up and to help all involved to understand how classrooms will function.

There will be no session on Thursday, Election Day in the county since many of the schools are polling places.

The week of Aug. 10-14 will be used as a staff development period for teachers. Educators will utilize the week to further develop virtual plans and interaction across all grade levels, according to Hixson.

The system will begin on Aug. 17 in the “Red” Phase.

Gov. Bill Lee released his plan for the safe opening of Tennessee schools.

“We are adjusting our plans due to the statewide plan,” Hixson said in an email. “We have made several adjustments, focusing on the concerns for our students who may not have Internet access and/or consistent support or supervision at home.”

Under the “Red” operational phase, all instruction shifts to remote learning.

“We are working with principals and teachers to try to open sections of our schools to accommodate small groups of students who may need Wi-Fi access and/or support with virtual learning, hands-on labs, and other support,” Hixson said. “This may be different at each level between elementary, middle and high school. Schools will determine these schedules and will communicate with students regarding assigned times to attend if necessary. We continue to develop this plan as we progress toward the start of the school year and beyond.”

Sports seasons for Cherokee and Volunteer high schools, as well as other regional high schools will also be reviewed on Monday by superintendents throughout East Tennessee.

“The regional athletic directors met and have drafted recommendations for fall sports,” Hixson said. “Regional superintendents will review the recommendations on Monday and will decide as a region how we will handle contact sports, protocol for positive cases, concessions, crowd attendance, forfeits due to illness, continuance of any sports while schools are fully virtual, and so forth. We will share the decisions regarding these topics late Monday or Tuesday morning.”