Upper Cumberland School Directors have been working together to coordinate plans to return students to the classroom.
Clay County Director of Schools Matt Eldridge told the Clay County School Board Thursday night that 15 of 18 counties in the region will return to school as normal at the beginning of the school year.
“We’ve all been anxious wanting to have some guidance,” Eldridge said. “We’ve felt like this is the way we were going to go, along with the other 15 districts in the Upper Cumberland, to get started back, get the kids back to some normalcy, and get their families back to some normalcy. That’s where we want to see them and get back to what we’re supposed to do.”
Eldridge said Clay County Schools will reopen as normal with an abbreviated day on July 31. August 3 will be the first full day of school.
By being able to meet regularly as a group, Eldridge said that each district was able to lean on their collected experience.
“We all learn from each other and what works in every district,” Eldridge said. “I’ll tell you what it’s done: I hate that this has happened, but’s it’s made the virtual learning program better across the state and probably across the nation because it’s made us propel ourselves a lot further along.”
Eldridge told the board that all the directors wanted to make the decision for parents to send their child back to school as easy as they could. He said there will be options for students who have health concerns. With the lessons learned from last spring, Eldridge said he believes schools can adapt to offer different ways to offer education.
“We learned we’re not ready for it,” Eldridge said. “That’s a shame in the technology age. This is what school is going to. I said this in a Director’s meeting a couple months ago. I said what’s about to happen is a smaller school district maybe doesn’t offer a program that a more metropolitan one. They may enroll one of our children for one period a day and then draw that funding for that one-and-a-half hour period even though they’re our full-time student.”
Eldridge said that medical safeguards are in place following CDC guidelines. Students will have their temperature checked each day and quarantine areas will be set up help protect students from infection.