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An unprecedented year in Jo. Co. Schools

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

That 2020 has been an unusual year for everyone, there is little doubt. Between quarantines, shelter in place orders, widespread cancellations, mask mandates, and social distancing, the world has changed. In light of this global pandemic, Johnson County Schools has gone through a series of updates and changes that will affect the system for years to come.

One notable development was virtual capabilities. Johnson County Schools used K12 online programs for virtual high school classes. Now the local school system is partnering with Pearson Connections Academy to offer virtual learning for students of all ages. Teachers shared additional resources through SAILS, Adapted Minds, Discovery Education, and Khan Academy to help fill any understanding gaps. Some students from within the system have decided to stay virtual even after schools returned to session.

Continuing on a virtual note, Johnson County Schools made a significant jump in streaming technology. The school system started streaming graduation ceremonies back in 2012. As of 2020, people from anywhere in the world with internet access can watch Johnson County’s revenue sports (football and basketball) through the National Federation of State High School Associations’ app or attend the School Board’s monthly meetings via Youtube.

Johnson County has garnered notice from the State of Tennessee. Other than the officials that already held state board positions, Johnson County had its first-ever TASBO Board representative, Tina Lipford, appointed. School Board member Kevin Long also became the Northeast Tennessee Director for the TSBA.

“I think that Johnson County, we might be at the end of the state, but we’re well represented,” Lipford explained in a previous interview with The Tomahawk.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced officials to branch out in a way that will stay part of the system long after the pandemic ends. Johnson County Schools works hand-in-hand with health officials to prevent cases and trace those that do happen. Nurse practitioner and school nurse Wendy Henley traced each case and noted symptoms to learn more about the local effects. One detail she discovered was that most people in the area do not contract a fever with COVID-19.

Despite the area’s size, COVID has hit Johnson County hard. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Johnson County has had 1,507 confirmed cases and 24 deaths. One of these deaths was long-term Johnson County School worker Martina Hope.

To learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic, visit tn.gov/health. To find out more about Johnson County Schools and current COVID numbers, visit jocoed.net.