With Loudon County and Lenoir City schools heeding Gov. Bill Lee’s guidance in suspending classes through April 24, educators are ironing out plans for the remainder of the spring semester.
Schools were initially out through April 3 before Lee requested a longer closure.
Jeanne Barker, Lenoir City director of schools, said communication is key during strenuous times.
“Given that we just moved from a short-term to a long-term closure, (Thursday) we had instructional team meetings,” Barker said. “We are codifying what the expectations are going to be for teachers to communicate with students or principals communicating with teachers and making sure that we have some way of getting a handle on what all is happening.”
For both districts, state mandated testing will not be happening per order of the state legislature.
“We aren’t going to do any testing,” Mike Garren, Loudon County director of schools, said. “We’re going to follow the state. You know, the state suspended testing, and I think they said that we can do some optional testing if we wanted to, but I think there’s families and kids that are under enough stress right now that we’re not going to add to it.”
Despite uncertainty, both school directors agree prom and graduation should eventually happen even if they do not take place on previously scheduled dates.
“The prom and graduation ... we’ll postpone those and as long as we can have them before school starts next year, even if it’s in July, I’d like to have those for the seniors that have worked hard,” Garren said. “We’ll just have to see what happens between now and the scheduled date. We’ve already postponed prom, but we’re not setting a new date because we want to make sure we comply with all the regulations that are out at that time.”
Barker said she is working closely with Chip Orr, Lenoir City High School principal, to figure out the logistics of rescheduling prom.
“(Orr) is in contact with the prom sponsors, and we’re trying everything we can do to ensure that if we come back to school April 24, that we can try to do something,” Barker said. “So it’s not off the table yet. We just don’t have any definitive dates or places.”
LCHS graduation is still scheduled for its original date. Graduation requirements, however, are going to be discussed at an emergency State Board of Education meeting April 9.
“The legislature has said that no students should be kept from graduating if they were on track at the time of the emergency,” Barker said. “So the state board will meet and actually decide if that’s going to apply and the details on that.”
Barker said there have been worries about the school year running into summer vacation.
“The 180-day requirement from the state has been waived,” she said. “So we would not be required to make up these days that are missing and that was a big concern that we would miss so many days that if would take us well into summer. That has been waived.”