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Tennessee Education Chief, Penny Schwinn, clarified and addressed governor’s statement that Tennessee would not offer remote learning this year. See important highlights below and related articles that take it one step further regarding Tennessee’s current status on remote learning options given the surge of COVID cases:

  • Gov. Bill Lee said he had no plans to allow school systems to shift to virtual learning, due to the learning loss impact of last year’s remote instruction.
  • District leaders call for flexibility to manage the public health crisis.
  • Penny Schwinn clarified later that districts already have authority to temporarily move individual students, classes, or even entire schools online in response to a COVID outbreak.
  • She said, “Right now, [remote instruction] is available to use on a school-by-school basis and an individual basis. You cannot use it district-wide,”.
  • Tennessee continues to monitor the health threat and recently reported 14,000 pediatric cases last week, an increase of 57% over the prior week. Dr. Lisa Piercey, state health commissioner.
  • While he does not support mask mandates, Governor Lee emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated and wearing masks to lessen virus spread in both classrooms and communities.
  • Some districts have already closed schools because of quarantined teachers or staff.
  • Two school superintendents asked state lawmakers to lobby the governor to reinstate remote learning as a tool to help manage COVID spread. They said many of their schools were approaching a staffing “crisis point” and asked for flexibility to shift schools or grades to remote instruction to avoid depleting stockpiled days before winter arrives.
  • Schwinn said districts could respond to COVID-related staffing problems by using stockpiled days, hold remote classes on a temporary basis, or allow a quarantined teacher to virtually teach students who remain in their school buildings under the supervision of another adult.
  • Schwinn emphasized the state doesn’t plan to move to a “blanket approach” on remote learning.
  • Elizabeth Tullos, a spokeswoman for the State Board of Education, said any decision to close schools should be made at the local level. If any closures exceed a district’s number of stockpiled days, districts may ask Schwinn for a waiver from the required 180 days of instruction.
  • “Along with other state leaders, the State Board of Education is monitoring what rules and policies, if any, are needed in further response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tullos said.

Read full article HERE

Related articles

  • Aug. 27, 2021: Schwinn to consider waivers to shift schools to virtual learning as COVID cases spike in Tennessee.
  • Sept. 1, 2021: Schwinn approves 8 waivers allowing some Tennessee schools to shift to remote learning temporarily.

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