By Meg Dickens
Whether masks are necessary has been a hot topic for a long time at this point, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson County Schools made its decision during the Thursday, May 13 Johnson County School Board meeting. The board voted three to one, with one member missing, to remove the current mask rule as part of the 2020-2021 Return to School Plan, effective immediately. Not only that, but the board also voted to remove all COVID restrictions on parent volunteers.
“Some don’t want to wear the masks, and that’s fine,” said Board member Mike Payne. “I know there was a lot of stuff out on social media, people didn’t like them, but if we hadn’t done what we did, we wouldn’t have had our kids in school.”
The state of Tennessee also dropped its restrictions for the upcoming school year. One unforeseen result is the end of hybrid learning. Students must either be entirely virtual through the Johnson County Online program or come to school on campus. Those who remain virtual have to enroll through the digital format instead of their current school.
Stopping hybrid learning does not stop quarantine rules. That is one facet of COVID-19 protocol that is still in effect for safety’s sake. As of Johnson County’s last COVID Dashboard update, May 13, there are no new cases in schools and six active cases: one at JCMS, two at Mountain City Elementary, and three at Roan Creek Elementary. Seven students are in quarantine.
Future students in quarantine will not be learning virtually. Instead, they will temporarily become part of the Homebound Program. Despite misconceptions, this is not an anomaly. Homebound has been around for decades and utilizes specific teachers to deliver instruction to students either at home or in the hospital that cannot come to class for qualifying mental or physical reasons.
Summer school will also be far more crowded this year because of COVID-19. More than 300 students will be attending this year, starting on June 7. Johnson County Schools has a grant to pay for transportation, and a callout will provide more information.
Visit jocoed.net to find out more about Johnson County Schools. To listen to the meeting archive, visit the Johnson County Schools TN Video YouTube channel.