Trousdale County Schools will continue their current hybrid learning model after the Christmas break.

The School Board unanimously voted to stay with the current system at its Dec. 17 meeting, citing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases both in the county and state.

“The hybrid program has worked well for us all semester, and then the cases increasing the way they have across Tennessee, I can’t see doing anything more right now,” said board member Barbara Towns.

“I think for the continuity so that parents know what our schedule is, it’s worked as well as it could have up to this point,” added Chairman Johnny Kerr. “I think parents appreciate the fact that they’ve had time to get their schedules down. We know that’s been a terrible imposition on them.”

The hybrid system consists of in-person classes on either Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday, based on the child’s last name. The other days of the week, classes are held online and work done on Chromebooks provided to each student in grades 4-12.

“It’s been a trying time for everybody,” said Anthony Crook. “I think what we’re doing is keeping students at least (doing) something…”

The Board noted that if circumstances change, then a decision to fully reopen schools could be made at a future date. Two vaccines for COVID-19 are now becoming available on a limited basis and are expected to be more widely offered in the coming months.

“The Board can call a special called meeting at any time and get us back five days a week,” noted Director of Schools Clint Satterfield.

Board members also voted to reinstate the district’s Strategic Compensation Plan for teachers, with a few changes. The School Board had suspended the bonus plan in August, based on questions on whether testing would take place.

Satterfield said in talks with state legislators, he felt testing would take place in the spring but that teachers would be “held harmless,” or have the accountability portion of testing removed.

“Testing would only be used to make instructional decisions,” Satterfield said.

The district had already removed attendance from the teacher bonus plan before the start of the school year.

“The last thing we want is people coming to work when they may be carrying the COVID virus,” Satterfield said.

Parent surveys and reading indicators will also be removed from the formula for calculating bonuses under the Strategic Compensation Plan, based on the board’s vote. Raises to baseline pay tied to teacher evaluations will remain in place.

The board also voted to require that a teacher be a Trousdale County employee at the time of payment to receive a bonus. Satterfield said in some cases, a teacher who had left the district was still being paid a bonus under the current model.

The School Board also approved the calendar for the 2021-22 school year, with an opening date of July 29. The calendar contains a four-day Thanksgiving break and a Christmas break of nearly three weeks.

Fall Break will be Oct. 18-22 and Spring Break March 21-25, 2022 under the calendar, which received 82.5% support from teachers who were surveyed.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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